Better place car
With almost $1 billion in funding and ambitions to replace petroleum-based cars with a network of cheap electrics, Shai Agassi's Better. Better Place rose to fame in , pulling in nearly $1 billion of venture capital by promising to put millions of cheap electric cars and. While every other player in the electric car space was focused on Better Place started selling cars in Israel and Denmark in late BTC NETWORK QUINCY MA
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Better Place had a visionary idea, but not the chops to pull it off. Here is what happened—and why the concept still stands a good chance of being carried through, only by someone else. Advertisement It started with the right founder Five years ago, Shai Agassi turned up amid a small pantheon of celebrity technologists who seemed to be leading the way to a new electric age.
Faced with the prospect of running out of juice at an inconvenient moment, motorists had spurned dozens of electrified models launched in recent years by Detroit, Europe, Japan and China. Agassi rejected the main proposed remedy to the condition—that scientists get back to the bench and create a battery that lasts a lot longer and costs a lot less. Instead, he said, one merely needed to make batteries as convenient as gasoline.
Which brought Agassi to the swapping station—a network of automated pitstops that, in a mere three minutes, or about the same time required to fill up a car with gasoline, would replace an exhausted battery with a charged one. In one fell swoop, a large new generation of drivers would be corralled into quiet, clean electric cars, now equipped with the allure of effectively limitless distance. The idea seemed especially well-suited for compact countries such as Israel and Denmark, along with dense cities in the US and Australia.
Advertisement That he would succeed seemed self-evident. Think of how the upstart Ford Model T put away electric cars for good; silicon chips triumphed over germanium; and the app-packed smartphone rendered the BlackBerry ho-hum. But then things went wrong The post-mortems we read like this one make Agassi sound like a chimerical operator with a thin hold on reality. But read this profile in Wired, and you see a different picture—of a systematic and holistic pursuit of a prodigious commercial challenge, starting with indefatigable political lobbying, a campaign to persuade car company executives to produce swappable models, and the recruitment of top technical hands to create software from scratch.
John Voelcker, editor of Green Car Reports, told me that Agassi missed important lobbying steps in Israel, his test market. Israel is an unusual place to sell cars, in that half of all new car sales are to fleet owners such as businesses, which provide the vehicles as a perk to their employees. Instead, they by and large refused to buy his cars—in all, only about of the electric Renaults were sold in the country. Would the electric bargain truly pay off in customers?
Incumbent carmakers, too, proved obstinate. For the purposes of scale and variety of choice, Agassi needed a number of them to offer up swappable models, and a Deutsche Bank analyst told clients in a note that he expected carmakers to pile in. There were other mis-steps. Agassi figured that Israelis would flock to a cleaner future, as he himself had.
But Agassi failed to win enough support from lower-ranking bureaucrats, some of whom held up permits to build swapping infrastructure. The same report stated that "[i]mprovements in battery technology will allow for increased power, increased electrical propulsion, and bigger gains in fuel economy. A public Better Place charging station in Canberra. In Australia a roll-out of charge stations was planned to begin in the major eastern coast cities before expanding nationally.
It was estimated that these would give comparable coverage to the existing 13, petrol stations then in operation. Before the end of the year, Better Place was going to open a battery switch station and joint education center in the southern city of Guangzhou. Shai Agassi said that China Southern Grid was embracing battery switch as the primary means of range extension. China Southern Power Grid pilot projects and other joint activities were supposed to explore the benefits that switchable-battery electric cars and the networked infrastructure that supports them might deliver to the electric grid in CSG's service area, which spanned five provinces, one million square kilometers, and million people in Southern China.
These would have had , charging poles , but they did not indicate how many, if any, of them would have been battery-swap stations. A Better Place battery swap station in Denmark. Using the Better Place model, DONG hoped to take advantage of the existing electric grid and electric vehicle batteries to harness and store the abundance of wind-generated power, and distribute it appropriately for transportation consumption.
Cumulative sales through April reached units. Because the batteries are owned by Better Place, Renault announced it would honor the existing agreement to around customers that bought their electric cars through Better Place. The operation of the charging stations was acquired in March by OpConnect.
Israel was the first nation in the world to partner with Better Place to build an electric car infrastructure. The Baran Group signed an agreement with Better Place stating its intention to build 51 battery switch stations over the course of to cover all of Israel. According to the Financial Times around corporations in Israel signed letters of intent to begin switching their fleets to Better Place electric car network as soon as the service becomes available.
This represented a potential of 80, electric cars. The station was supposed to be the first of approximately 40 stations to begin operating in the near term. The battery exchange process took five minutes.
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