May 21

Now launched: Better Place promises better solutions

 

Better Place is now open for business in Israel, with four battery switching stations operating, and 40 to be by year’s end.

The experiment in electric mobility offers five-minute battery swaps thus renewal of 100-mile range as quickly as a gasoline stop, making travel feasible from the northern end of the small country to the southern for those driving the roughly 140 and counting Renault Fluence cars.

The first adopters of the $32,000 car with leased battery are mostly Better Place employees; Better Place estimates within weeks the general public will begin receiving deliveries with “several hundred” reportedly on order. Leasing companies have also shown substantial interest, ordering 1,800 so far. By year’s end, Better Place said around 5,000 total should be on the road.

The deal involves leasing the battery for $300-500 monthly in a land of $8 per gallon gas. The Fluence is priced on par with comparatively equipped internal combustion vehicles. Fox News reported the entire value proposition offered will shave 20 percent off the cost of owning a conventional car – and saving will be higher as fuel prices rise.

Better Place founder Shai Agassi estimated the “tipping point” in favor of EVs assuming declining car and battery prices, should be in two-three years, and he ambitiously expects half of all new car sales in Israel to be electric by 2017.

If this is so, that would make Agassi even more of an optimist than Renault-Nissans’s Carlos Ghosn, who says by 2020 EVs will comprise 10 percent of new car sales in the far broader market Renault-Nissan is now proffering its goods.

To help offer choices beyond the Fluence, Renault is considering a smaller car compatible with battery swapping, and Better Place is also talking with other automakers. Meanwhile, it is heartened that thus far 80,000 people have expressed interest in its services at its Tel Aviv visitor’s center.

About 80-percent of Israel’s population is clustered in the geographically narrow country and Fox News called Israel the “perfect laboratory” to assess the viability of the replaceable battery system.

Later this year, Denmark is due to begin operating battery switching stations for Renault Fluences as well, followed by Amsterdam as the next European location. The first major market is to be Australia, beginning in Canberra this year, and pilot projects are also slated for Hawaii and California.

This said, eyes are on Israel, and how things go there could determine how things progress everywhere else in which the e-mobility model is expected to proliferate.

Since its founding four-and-a-half years ago, Better Place has raised $750 million. Investors include General Electric and HSBC Holdings PLC, with the largest being The Israel Corp. which also has a stake in Israel’s largest oil refinery and deep water oil drilling. Better Place has spent $400 million in getting started and is months behind schedule, but things appear to be starting now.

Fox observes Agassi’s brain child faces a “wall of skepticism,” as it has also observed of other efforts within the nascent industry intended to wean the world away from oil.

Like the Volt, the Better Place model has the broad goal of eliminating “range anxiety” albeit how Better Place does it is entirely different than adding a gasoline generator on board. Additionally, Better Place says it goes one better by offering cars priced comparatively to conventional ones – actually saving money rather than costing more right off the bat.

Detractors have speculated how the public will receive the Better Place way of doing things. A host of potential pitfalls are in question as the company embarks on proving its way will work, and Agassi is undeterred.

“We’re driving a car that most people said would be a fantasy,” he said.

Israel’s total new car market reportedly consists of about 200,000 annual sales. If half of them are electric by 2017 as Agassi reportedly predicts, that will wind up being a lot of batteries to store, don’t you think?

Of if you think not, how would it be if this idea caught on to the same degree in larger markets, as intended, where many more sales occur, longer distances are traveled, and ultimately hundreds of thousands to millions of cars started to rely on this way of doing things?

That’s just one observation, perhaps some of you can offer others?

Fox News

This entry was posted on Monday, May 21st, 2012 at 5:55 am and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

COMMENTS: 54


  1. 1
    Koz

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    May 21st, 2012 (7:26 am)

    “Israel’s total new car market reportedly consists of about 200,000 annual sales. If half of them are electric by 2017 as Agassi reportedly predicts, that will wind up being a lot of batteries to store, don’t you think? That’s just one observation, perhaps some of you can offer others?”

    No! In a country 140 miles long and where people rarely drive beyond the border, they won’t to swap very often. Don’t you think? Charging is part of the plan too.

    My concern would be getting people to pay $32k for the car without a battery. Even though the value proposition may work for people that drive “enough”, consumers will still have come to grips paying the same for a car that has several thousand fewer parts and no expensive battery. Seems like Renault is getting the better end of this deal, at least if the concept gains acceptance and volume. IMO, it would be a much easier sell if the car were 10-15% under the comparative ICE price, even if that meant raising the battery lease a little.


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    Loboc

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    May 21st, 2012 (8:00 am)

    I’m with Koz. 100-mile range should be more than enough for most drivers without swapping.

    Did anybody do an analysis of driver behavior first?


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    kdawg

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    May 21st, 2012 (8:37 am)

    Sorry, going to look at the financial aspect. The battery lease is $300-$500/month. Let’s go with $400. This is to replace driving on $8 gas. With $400 I could buy 50 gallons of gas in Israel. If I drove a ICE car that got 30mpg, that would be 1500 miles per month, or 50 miles per day. I don’t see any savings here, and this is in a country with $8/gallon gas!


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    Nelson

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    May 21st, 2012 (8:40 am)

    History repeats itself. Battery swapping is not new at least in the U.S.

    NPNS!
    Volt#671


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    Mark Z

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    May 21st, 2012 (9:37 am)

    If you drive an EV, Better Place offers a solution to range anxiety. Hot and cold weather will reduce the range of the EV, so having a quick battery swap-out is an answer when minutes count. With battery swapping, the EV could be a family’s only car!

    Tesla told us during the recent Fashion Island preview that the 45 minute DC Fast Charge should not be used over 2% of the time during the lifetime of the battery. That rules out the daily use of Fast Charge. In the US, if you have a long daily commute, daily battery swapping is a more attractive option than waiting for the battery healthy 31 mph charge time with the 160 mile battery or the 62 mph charge time with a dual charger option available only for the 230 and 300 mile range Model S. (Battery charging at work is the best option, but what about delivery vehicles or sales persons who cannot wait to charge?)

    Israel has the desire to reduce their fossil fuel dependency. I applaud the innovation that is taking place in Israel.


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    Raymondjram

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    May 21st, 2012 (10:19 am)

    Mark Z:
    In the US, if you have a long daily commute, daily battery swapping is a more attractive option than waiting for the battery healthy 31 mph charge time with the 160 mile battery or the 62 mph charge time with a dual charger option available only for the 230 and 300 mile range Model S.

    I know that electrons move at almost the speed of light, but how do you explain a 31 MPH or a 62 MPH charge?

    I would believe a 31 mile range per hour of charge. Is this what you meant?

    Raymond


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    DonC

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    May 21st, 2012 (10:26 am)

    Today’s batteries have limited energy density and, as a consequence, you need some way of extending the range. A range extender on the Volt is one solution. DC fast chargers is another. Battery swapping is yet a third.

    All of the alternatives have a downside but the battery swapping seems like a non-starter. All the battery packs would have to use the same chemistry. All would have to be the same size. And all would have to be easy to access and situated in the same place. With development being very fast and so many manufacturers the chances of this working are about zero. Plus the battery swapping stations are very expensive. And not to mention that people are not going to want to swap batteries, unless of course their battery pack is a loser.

    They should just buy Volts and be done with it.


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    stuart22

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    May 21st, 2012 (10:56 am)

    It is too static of an approach to the problem of extending range. The number of swap stations needed to service dense, spread out population areas seems way beyond reach. I can see long lines forming as they wait their turn for their six minute swap plus additional time for changeover/reset for the next customer.

    Innovation in battery design is the enemy of the BP concept; each advance in range and decrease in charging time will push it further to a point of irrelevant obsolescence.

    The question I have is, will the BP swap concept be a distraction or even a deterrent to efforts to improve batteries?


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    May 21st, 2012 (10:57 am)

    The car seems quite pricey if you are leasing the battery. $32,000 just for the body and powertrain?


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    May 21st, 2012 (11:11 am)

    I don’t like the propane tank switching cause it seems the ones available are always in worse shape then mine. I sure ain’t going to want to end up with a crappy battery. Of course the key difference is you don’t own the battery so you don’t care too much if you end up with an inferior one. That said it is just more over head in what is supposed to be a value proposition. I have been wrong before – no really it is true – but I don’t see a future in battery swapping. Battery and charging technology are advancing and will eliminate any perceived benefit before the swapping can reach the critical mass it would need to be viable. I just don’t see it.


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    May 21st, 2012 (11:17 am)

    If you had the $$ to stock a gas station with batteries every 20 miles or so on every freeway in America with batteries you could force the manufacturers to play ball with you because consumers would demand it. But OMG what a cost that would take. And where is the return? It would still be several years before there would be enough vehicles to justify the infrastructure you would need starting day 1. And by that time what? 200 mile batteries would be the norm and charge times under 15 minutes? You are obsolete before the red ink even dried.


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    Noel Park

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    May 21st, 2012 (11:34 am)

    Well, if one can raise $750 million in venture capital I assume that one can finance a pretty comfy CEO lifestyle for quite some time before the chickens come home to roost, LOL. I’m strictly from Missouri on Better Place.


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    Noel Park

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    May 21st, 2012 (11:38 am)

    stuart22: The number of swap stations needed to service dense, spread out population areas seems way beyond reach.

    #8

    Yeah, I always picture myself trying to drive from LA to SF. I can’t picture stopping every 100 miles (plus you’d better leave a cushion) for gas, let alone battery swaps. Can you imagine the significant other screaming “OMG, the battery’s almost dead”? Not in my lifetime boys. +1


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    Noel Park

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    May 21st, 2012 (11:39 am)

    DonC: They should just buy Volts and be done with it.

    #7

    Tell it like it is brother, LOL. +1


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    May 21st, 2012 (11:43 am)

    Mark Z: Israel has the desire to reduce their fossil fuel dependency. I applaud the innovation that is taking place in Israel.

    #5

    Hey, if it’s the public policy of Israel to do so, and it seems pretty smart in their situation, more power to them. If the people are aware enough and patriotic enough to make it work, who am I to say otherwise? But I don’t see it working here any time soon.


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    Brian

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    May 21st, 2012 (12:02 pm)

    I am a little confused as to what is included in the leasing of the battery pack. On wiki it states that “the Better Place monthly payment covers electric “fuel” costs including battery, daily charging and battery swaps”. So I assume that by leasing the battery you are also paying for all the charging that you would be doing for that month regardless if it’s at home or at work? I can’t imagine having to go swap out a battery everytime you needed more power in the battery.

    I would rather purchase the vehicle with the battery, and in the event that I would be going on a longer trip I could then pull into a swapping station and receive a fully charged battery.

    I realize there are issues with that plan ie. warranty, paying for a new battery and possibly getting one near the end of its life cycled into your car. But until I get better clarification and it makes more sense financially I would rather have it done my way.


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    May 21st, 2012 (12:24 pm)

    OT: Bob Lutz in this month’s Charged magazine. Talks about VIA motors and the Volt.

    http://issuu.com/chargedevs/docs/apr-may-2012/7


  18. 18
    volt11

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    May 21st, 2012 (12:36 pm)

    According to http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1075598_does-better-place-have-a-monopoly-on-electric-cars-in-israel, the Volt is supposed to come to Israel in the next year or so, but it looks like legal charging restrictions there that favor the Better Place model and Renault might be part of what basically amounts to political corruption.

    I don’t really like taking the skeptical position here, but I don’t see battery swapping as a practical solution for EV range issues (and obviously, most of us feel that EREV is the smarter solution.) At the very least it would require standardization across all manufacturers for it to gain traction, and the variations in battery packaging, battery chemistry, and just plain progress make that a non-starter. Meanwhile, these Israeli buyers are dependent on the longevity of Better Place as a going concern. It’s hard enough taking a gamble on buying something like a Tesla and whether or not they’ll be here 5 years from now (and I find the Tesla S very tempting) but at least the car itself will probably live a useful life.

    Battery swapping makes sense to me for captive fleets of taxis, like I believe is now being done in Japan.


  19. 19
    kdawg

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    May 21st, 2012 (12:37 pm)

    Another OT: On the way out of Detroit this weekend I was surrounded by a swarm of Chevy Cruzes (not pictured), when a black Volt pushed though. I kept up for a while but didn’t want to keep driving over 80mph. Always nice to see a Volt in the wild.

    WildVolt.jpg


  20. 20
    kdawg

     

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    May 21st, 2012 (12:43 pm)

    Latest Volt Commercial
    http://youtu.be/RkaAc_YckFA


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    kdawg

     

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    May 21st, 2012 (1:01 pm)

    stuart22: It is too static of an approach to the problem of extending range. The number of swap stations needed to service dense, spread out population areas seems way beyond reach. I can see long lines forming as they wait their turn for their six minute swap plus additional time for changeover/reset for the next customer.
    Innovation in battery design is the enemy of the BP concept; each advance in range and decrease in charging time will push it further to a point of irrelevant obsolescence.
    The question I have is, will the BP swap concept be a distraction or even a deterrent to efforts to improve batteries?

    I think battery swap is the only solution for long distance travelling in a pure BEV. Not at 100miles per battery though. They need to swap out a 300mile range battery. In larger cities, people can charge their own cars for the most part. The swap would work well for delivery trucks & taxis. I don’t see lines at swap stations any longer than at current gas stations. As battery tech improves and density increases, I think this only helps swap stations as you can change a smaller battery with a long range. Until the quick-charging technology improves, I see battery swap as the only practical way to drive 300+ miles in a BEV.

    As far as battery standards, that is a simple engineering challenge. Most consumer products use a standard battery. It’s not like Mag-light flashlights make a propitiatory battery. Even if they don’t standardize, if you own a GM car, you go to a GM swap station. Ford? To a Ford station. If you’re the only car-maker in the biz, like Renault now, you don’t have to worry about standardizing w/another company.

    Another option is just swapping the car. Move your suitcase to a new car that is fully charged and go on your way. Outside of the box, I know, but not too far from what Zip Car does now.


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    James

     

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    May 21st, 2012 (1:14 pm)

    It’s nice to watch the Better Place model being tested in Israel. With that country’s juxtaposition to countrys that want them dead, and whom hold a giant share of the world’s oil supply, it makes a whole lot of sense they’d be willing to back a test program such as this.

    For the USA Better Place holds much promise for commercial fleets. Trucks like VIA PHEVs with swappable battery packs would be an enormous benefit in so many ways.

    For now, it seems the cost of the vehicle, the enormous task of installing infrastructure and the barrier of politics in America may mean Better Place is only “better” for smaller nations less intrenched in oil dependency than our own.

    CHEVY RUNS DEEP — GAS IS STEEP! ,

    James


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    Texas

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    May 21st, 2012 (1:30 pm)

    kdawg:
    Sorry, going to look at the financial aspect.The battery lease is $300-$500/month.Let’s go with $400.This is to replace driving on $8 gas.With $400 I could buy 50 gallons of gas in Israel.If I drove a ICE car that got 30mpg, that would be 1500 miles per month, or 50 miles per day.I don’t see any savings here, and this is in a country with $8/gallon gas!

    The prices have been set so that the total cost of driving is less than a comparable ICE vehicle. This will be done in every market. As the volumes rise, the costs will drop dramatically, especially for the electronics and the batteries.

    There are plans to have a cheaper model that is actually free, like the cheap mobile phones. If you sign up for a 7 year contract you get the car for free. Who thinks, as long as the monthly cost is the same as the cost for the same ICE vehicle, this phone model will not be successful, assuming comparable convenience?


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    May 21st, 2012 (1:39 pm)

    DonC:
    All of the alternatives have a downside but the battery swapping seems like a non-starter. All the battery packs would have to use the same chemistry. All would have to be the same size. And all would have to be easy to access and situated in the same place. With development being very fast and so many manufacturers the chances of this working are about zero. Plus the battery swapping stations are very expensive. And not to mention that people are not going to want to swap batteries, unless of course their battery pack is a loser.

    1) The swap stations can hold a few different sizes
    2) Only the physical size of the battery pack needs to stay the same – they plan to update the chemistry as the science advances. The driver will not even know or care. This is far better than the guy who buys the old chemistry and is stuck with it for the life of the car.
    3) The battery swapping stations only cost .5 million dollars. The entire model has been analyzed by some of the top minds in business and found to be a very viable model – thus, privately funded, not funded by the government.
    4) It is already functioning and successful. Saying it has no chance is like saying it won’t even get off the drawing board. It is fully functioning and vehicles are in the hands of customers right now. They have enough pre-orders to make this a viable enterprise, today.


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    May 21st, 2012 (1:45 pm)

    stuart22:
    It is too static of an approach to the problem of extending range.The number of swap stations needed to service dense, spread out population areas seems way beyond reach.I can see long lines forming as they wait their turn for their six minute swap plus additional time for changeover/reset for the next customer.

    Innovation in battery design is the enemy of the BP concept; each advance in range and decrease in charging time will push it further to a point of irrelevant obsolescence.

    1) BP already plans to use new chemistries as they become available. They simply use the same physical envelope and make it compatible with the electronics

    2) The number of swap stations has been modeled extensively and show to scale easily and through the use of self-financing (as there are more cars, more profits pay for more stations)

    3) The swap stations can be transformed to quick charge stations when the technology is finally ready for prime time. This could take decades. The transition can be very smooth


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    May 21st, 2012 (1:47 pm)

    Jon:
    The car seems quite pricey if you are leasing the battery. $32,000 just for the body and powertrain?

    The price has been set to be less than a comparable model in each market. No matter what, it will be cheaper to run the BP vehicle. Now, if the price of gas continues to increase…


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    May 21st, 2012 (1:58 pm)

    ronr64:
    I don’t like the propane tank switching cause it seems the ones available are always in worse shape then mine.I sure ain’t going to want to end up with a crappy battery.Of course the key difference is you don’t own the battery so you don’t care too much if you end up with an inferior one.That said it is just more over head in what is supposed to be a value proposition.I have been wrong before – no really it is true – but I don’t see a future in battery swapping.Battery and charging technology are advancing and will eliminate any perceived benefit before the swapping can reach the critical mass it would need to be viable.I just don’t see it.

    If you are right and the perfect EEStor-like miracle comes along then the BP swap stations can be transitioned into quick charge stations. Same grid hook-ups are needed, same locations are needed, same safety systems are needed.

    As for the network, there still needs to be a way to keep all drivers from charging up at 8:00 am and at 5:00 pm. The BP network does this and flattens out the demand curves – makes it cheaper for the utility companies. There still needs a system to deal with old batteries, end of life, transition to non-mobile applications like grid storage before recycling, etc.

    All of the BP systems will be needed for the quick charge EV anyway. Thus, it is the perfect start that can shift to better technology as it become ready for commercial use.

    Reality check – there is no battery technology even on the lab bench that can equal the convenience of current ICE cars. Only the BP model can compete on every level, including price (the current high price of the Volt keeps it from being in the same league).

    The Volt is an excellent model that will work in many conditions, especially for very cold and hot locations where a BEV can show some weaknesses. However, it will never be able to compete with the BP model once the infrastructure is installed, like in Israel. You may be able to get the cheap BP model for free with a multi-year contract. How many teenagers are going to choose that over the $40,000 Volt? Every darn one of them.


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    May 21st, 2012 (2:02 pm)

    Noel Park: #5

    Hey, if it’s the public policy of Israel to do so, and it seems pretty smart in their situation, more power to them.If the people are aware enough and patriotic enough to make it work, who am I to say otherwise?But I don’t see it working here any time soon.

    Not because the model is not good.

    China is working hard to get the BP model up and running (they already have a swap station up and running). If China goes, so does the rest of the world. Who wants to compete with a China running EVs armed only with old, expensive ICE vehicles during the second half of the fossil fuel era? Nobody. Nobody who has a brain, that is.


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    May 21st, 2012 (2:10 pm)

    Brian:
    I am a little confused as to what is included in the leasing of the battery pack. On wiki it states that “the Better Place monthly payment covers electric “fuel” costs including battery, daily charging and battery swaps”. So I assume that by leasing the battery you are also paying for all the charging that you would be doing for that month regardless if it’s at home or at work? I can’t imagine having to go swap out a battery everytime you needed more power in the battery.

    I would rather purchase the vehicle with the battery, and in the event that I would be going on a longer trip I could then pull into a swapping station and receive a fully charged battery.

    I realize there are issues with that plan ie. warranty, paying for a new battery and possibly getting one near the end of its life cycled into your car. But until I get better clarification and it makes more sense financially I would rather have it done my way.

    Your way makes the car too expensive, like a $40,000 Volt.

    Just think of the battery as a can of gasoline. You don’t want to own the gas station, do you? You don’t care where that gasoline comes from, do you? Your ICE car can’t run without gasoline yet you don’t buy it with a 5 year supply, do you? You basically are buying a EV with no battery when you by an ICE car. Think about it. If there are no gas stations, your car is a paper weight.

    The BP model allows them to give the car away for free with a 7 year contract. Think about that when you are walking around the $40,000 Volt. Do you think that teenager has a tough choice to make? No. They can make the monthly payments but not that huge upfront payout.


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    May 21st, 2012 (2:14 pm)

    volt11:
    According to http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1075598_does-better-place-have-a-monopoly-on-electric-cars-in-israel, the Volt is supposed to come to Israel in the next year or so, but it looks like legal charging restrictions there that favor the Better Place model and Renault might be part of what basically amounts to political corruption.

    I don’t really like taking the skeptical position here, but I don’t see battery swapping as a practical solution for EV range issues (and obviously, most of us feel that EREV is the smarter solution.) At the very least it would require standardization across all manufacturers for it to gain traction, and the variations in battery packaging, battery chemistry, and just plain progress make that a non-starter. Meanwhile, these Israeli buyers are dependent on the longevity of Better Place as a going concern. It’s hard enough taking a gamble on buying something like a Tesla and whether or not they’ll be here 5 years from now (and I find the Tesla S very tempting) but at least the car itself will probably live a useful life.

    Battery swapping makes sense to me for captive fleets of taxis, like I believe is now being done in Japan.

    No, the Better Place taxi test in Japan was just to see if the system worked. It passed with flying colors and they are working hard to implement the system nation wide. However, anyone who knows the Japanese knows this will take a long time because they move like snails on depressants.


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    May 21st, 2012 (2:16 pm)

    James:
    It’s nice to watch the Better Place model being tested in Israel. With that country’s juxtaposition to countrys that want them dead, and whom hold a giant share of the world’s oil supply, it makes a whole lot of sense they’d be willing to back a test program such as this.

    For the USA Better Place holds much promise for commercial fleets. Trucks like VIA PHEVs with swappable battery packs would be an enormous benefit in so many ways.

    For now, it seems the cost of the vehicle, the enormous task of installing infrastructure and the barrier of politics in America may mean Better Place is only “better” for smaller nations less intrenched in oil dependency than our own.

    CHEVY RUNS DEEP — GAS IS STEEP! ,

    James

    You mean smaller nations like China and Australia? Both are moving forward very quickly, as you will hear soon.


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    CorvetteGuy

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    May 21st, 2012 (2:38 pm)

    If ‘Battery Swap Station’ infrastructure was already as available as the local gas station, I still wouldn’t prefer it over a VOLT. Why would I want to worry about finding a station who will surely charge me $10 per swap (because they will not do it unless they make a considerable profit), when I can just keep going in my VOLT until I get home to recharge for $1.50 to $1.75 ? The VOLTEC system is far more practical.

    15,000 miles per year @ 100 miles per charge = 150 ‘Swaps’ per year x $10 per Swap = $1,500 per year in charges…
    or
    15,000 miles per year = 41.10 miles per day – 38 miles per day on AER (conservatively) = 1,131.50 miles per year in Generator Mode… 365 days x $1.50 = $547.50 in electricity… 1,131.50 miles / 40 MPG in Generator Mode = 28.29 gallons x $4.49 Premium = $127.02 in gasoline…

    $547.50 + $127.02 = $674.52 per year
    That is at least $325.48 in savings and I have totally eliminated the time lost looking for and waiting for my ‘Swap’ to take place. And the associated ‘Range Anxiety’. ;)


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    May 21st, 2012 (3:25 pm)

    Texas: 3) The battery swapping stations only cost .5 million dollars.

    @24

    Permit me to doubt. I have some small experience of construction, and there is no way in the world that the swap station shown above can be duplicated here for $500K. Not even just the building, never mind what goes inside it and an inventory of batteries. In LA a properly zoned and sited piece of property would probably cost you that.


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    May 21st, 2012 (3:30 pm)

    Texas: Who wants to compete with a China running EVs armed only with old, expensive ICE vehicles during the second half of the fossil fuel era? Nobody. Nobody who has a brain, that is.

    #28

    Well I’m not holding my breath, LOL. China is even a bigger country than the U.S., with vast distance between cities. It’s a charming idea, but there’s not enough money in the world to implement this on a nationwide basis in China. Maybe in the big city centers someday, but it’s not going to replace ICEs for intercity travel any time soon.


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    May 21st, 2012 (4:23 pm)

    Texas:

    The Volt …will never be able to compete with the BP model once the infrastructure is installed, like in Israel. You may be able to get the cheap BP model for free with a multi-year contract. How many teenagers are going to choose that over the $40,000 Volt? Every darn one of them.

    “once the infrastructure is installed, like in Israel’?

    40 swaps stations is equivalent to maybe 4 or 5 typical gas stations in terms of service capacity at any given moment – not the kind of “infrastructure” even close to being sufficient for the area in which I live.

    I with the guys from Missouri – you’ll have to show it works in order to remove my doubts.


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    May 21st, 2012 (4:43 pm)

    stuart22: I with the guys from Missouri

    #35

    Well it sure must be a big state. There sure are a lot of us, LOL. +1


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    May 21st, 2012 (5:38 pm)

    Texas: Your way makes the car too expensive, like a $40,000 Volt.

    Not if you factor in the cost of the annual $5,000 battery subscription. A year of Volt electricity costs 10% of that.

    B.P.: Year 1 = $32K + 1x$5K = $37K
    B.P.: Year 2 = $32K + 2x$5K = $42K
    B.P.: Year 3 = $32K + 3x$5K = $47K
    B.P.: Year 4 = $32K + 4x$5K = $52K
    B.P.: Year 5 = $32K + 5x$5K = $57K

    Volt: Year 1 = $40K + 1x$0.5K = $40.5K
    Volt: Year 2 = $40K + 1x$0.5K = $41.0K
    Volt: Year 3 = $40K + 1x$0.5K = $41.5K
    Volt: Year 4 = $40K + 1x$0.5K = $42.0K
    Volt: Year 5 = $40K + 1x$0.5K = $42.5K

    So you’re paying more for B.P., and you’re chained to their expensive subscription.


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    May 21st, 2012 (5:58 pm)

    Open-Mind: So you’re paying more for B.P., and you’re chained to their expensive subscription.

    #37

    Well it works for the cell phone companies, so I guess Shai must figure it’ll work for BP too, LOL.


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    May 21st, 2012 (6:19 pm)

    Texas: If you are right and the perfect EEStor-like miracle comes along then the BP swap stations can be transitioned into quick charge stations. Same grid hook-ups are needed, same locations are needed, same safety systems are needed.

    Who would pay $5,000 per year for a battery charging service? My guess … nobody.

    IMO, long before that happens, Shai will declare bankruptcy leaving you with a $32K electric lawn ornament. Your better place will become a bitter place. I’m sure Shai has his golden parachute ready.


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    May 21st, 2012 (6:21 pm)

    Wait … I thought Fox News hated electric cars.

    IMO, the Better Place model is plagued with technical and financial weaknesses (several mentioned by other posters here), yet this Fox News article seems mostly positive. Perhaps, a setup?


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    May 21st, 2012 (7:03 pm)

    OK…they have 4 stations and have spent $400 million and are months behind. Are we supposed to believe that a battery swapping station costs $100 million???? This sounds REALLY fishy. What’s a Jiffy Lube cost to set up?


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    May 21st, 2012 (7:49 pm)

    Ok, somebody has to say it…They went to all the trouble of building a better place, when all we really needed was a better car. Thanks, GM.


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    May 21st, 2012 (8:09 pm)

    OT: Does anyone know why the number of registered vehicles on voltstats.net dropped by almost 100 Volts in less than a day? It was near 1,000 and now it only show 887. Why the mass exodus?


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    May 21st, 2012 (8:58 pm)

    Texas: 1) The swap stations can hold a few different sizes
    2) Only the physical size of the battery pack needs to stay the same – they plan to update the chemistry as the science advances. The driver will not even know or care. This is far better than the guy who buys the old chemistry and is stuck with it for the life of the car.
    3) The battery swapping stations only cost .5 million dollars. The entire model has been analyzed by some of the top minds in business and found to be a very viable model – thus, privately funded, not funded by the government.
    4) It is already functioning and successful. Saying it has no chance is like saying it won’t even get off the drawing board. It is fully functioning and vehicles are in the hands of customers right now. They have enough pre-orders to make this a viable enterprise, today.

    1. A “few” different sizes always turns into a lot of different sizes over time.
    2. It’s the inventory problem. You start with one battery but in a few years you have to have to inventory all different kinds.
    3. I’d love to see a cite. Even my ever optimistic self doesn’t think this would work. For example, the half million dollars is a joke. It takes over $200,000 to put in a fast charger. No one can figure out a business case for a DC fast charger, and this would require an expensive battery swap facility and battery inventory on top of a DC fast charger.
    4. It’s easy to be up and running when you’re just spending money. The rub comes in when you have to make money. Just take the cost of ONE of these stations and figure out what utilization rate you’d need to make it fly.

    Misc Other Issues: You can’t use a thermal management system with this system and the apparent premature battery failures in Leafs in AZ suggest you want a TMS. The other big problem is that you have to charge all these batteries. Try doing that and demand charges at $25/kW will literally bankrupt you.


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    May 21st, 2012 (9:17 pm)

    CorvetteGuy:
    If ‘Battery Swap Station’ infrastructure was already as available as the local gas station, I still wouldn’t prefer it over a VOLT. Why would I want to worry about finding a station who will surely charge me $10 per swap (because they will not do it unless they make a considerable profit), when I can just keep going in my VOLT until I get home to recharge for $1.50 to $1.75 ? The VOLTEC system is far more practical.

    15,000 miles per year @ 100 miles per charge = 150 ‘Swaps’ per year x $10 per Swap = $1,500 per year in charges…
    or
    15,000 miles per year = 41.10 miles per day – 38 miles per day on AER (conservatively) = 1,131.50 miles per year in Generator Mode… 365 days x $1.50 = $547.50 in electricity… 1,131.50 miles / 40 MPG in Generator Mode = 28.29 gallons x $4.49 Premium = $127.02 in gasoline…

    $547.50 + $127.02 = $674.52 per year
    That is at least $325.48 in savings and I have totally eliminated the time lost looking for and waiting for my ‘Swap’ to take place. And the associated ‘Range Anxiety’.

    1) Swap is part of the monthly package. Better Place says that if you have to swap more times than you have to fill your current gas tank, they will start paying you. Why? They feel the BP model is more convenient than a current ICE vehicle. Most of the time you will just charge at home and at the office. Thus, far less trips to the swap station (like trips to the gas station).

    2) The cost of the Better Place model is priced to be less than a comparable vehicle in every market.

    3) You will be able to get the car for free with a 7 year contract. Compare that to a $40,000 Volt.


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    May 21st, 2012 (9:23 pm)

    Noel Park: @24

    Permit me to doubt.I have some small experience of construction, and there is no way in the world that the swap station shown above can be duplicated here for $500K.Not even just the building, never mind what goes inside it and an inventory of batteries.In LA a properly zoned and sited piece of property would probably cost you that.

    Well, that is what Shai Agassi says. I guess you know more than him? I’m sure he is taking into consideration the volume of these things going out. I bet you would say the same thing about a modern car – no way that could only cost $20,000. You would be right, if only a few were produced. In low volumes or if you purchase the individual parts and put it together yourself, the cost can be far over a million dollars per unit. Same idea.

    It is all about the volume. We call this the Economies of Scale.


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    May 21st, 2012 (9:29 pm)

    Noel Park: #28

    Well I’m not holding my breath, LOL.China is even a bigger country than the U.S., with vast distance between cities.It’s a charming idea, but there’s not enough money in the world to implement this on a nationwide basis in China.Maybe in the big city centers someday, but it’s not going to replace ICEs for intercity travel any time soon.

    Sorry, you are wrong about this. It only takes one week’s worth of China’s fuel use to pay for the initial infrastructure. You see, you don’t get the fact that the initial infrastructure will not power the whole Chinese driving population. It will only power the first wave of cars. Get it? As more cars come on-line, the activity justifies further investment (profits pay for expansion of the infrastructure, just like facebook and Google pay for new giant server farms as more members sign up). They didn’t build out all those server farms at first, just enough of them to get good coverage for the smaller volume of users.

    It is self financing in this way, no government subsidies are needed.


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    May 21st, 2012 (9:37 pm)

    stuart22: “once the infrastructure is installed, like in Israel’?

    40 swaps stations is equivalent to maybe 4 or 5 typical gas stations in terms of service capacity at any given moment – not the kind of “infrastructure” even close to being sufficient for the area in which I live.

    I with the guys from Missouri – you’ll have to show it works in order to remove my doubts.

    See comment above about building out the infrastructure as more users come on-line. It is a well known business stragegy.

    Yes, Better Place has their army of critics but that army is getting decimated on the battle field. Now that the system is up and running the critics are being silenced. If you go to the forums here, you will find passionate threads about this topic. Many members even doubted if the car could be built to handle the swap – it was built, or if the swap station would work – it does work, even the Japanese love it, or that the whole network would work – it does, fantastically, or that customers would buy in – they did and BP has more than enough customers and investors to keep the activity at a tremendous pace.

    Soon, most of the critics here will have to admit the Better Place is a viable and practical solution because the numbers and success will make it self evident.

    Remember the Volt critics? Where are they now, baby?


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    May 21st, 2012 (9:46 pm)

    Open-Mind: Not if you factor in the cost of the annual $5,000 battery subscription.A year of Volt electricity costs 10% of that.

    B.P.: Year 1 = $32K + 1x$5K = $37K
    B.P.: Year 2 = $32K + 2x$5K = $42K
    B.P.: Year 3 = $32K + 3x$5K = $47K
    B.P.: Year 4 = $32K + 4x$5K = $52K
    B.P.: Year 5 = $32K + 5x$5K = $57K

    Volt: Year 1 = $40K + 1x$0.5K = $40.5K
    Volt: Year 2 = $40K + 1x$0.5K = $41.0K
    Volt: Year 3 = $40K + 1x$0.5K = $41.5K
    Volt: Year 4 = $40K + 1x$0.5K = $42.0K
    Volt: Year 5 = $40K + 1x$0.5K = $42.5K

    So you’re paying more for B.P., and you’re chained to their expensive subscription.

    Great, now tell Americans, that don’t think two weeks ahead, to think 5 years ahead and do a NPV analysis. Good luck with that as most cannot even read a simple chart.

    Or, ask them to choose from the following two options:

    1) Get the car for free with a 7 year contract
    2) Get financing for $40,000 for you new volt

    Hummmm, which shall I choose?

    No need to really debate this too much as the Volt will be going to Israel soon. Then we will see who will choose the Volt and who will choose the Better Place model.


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    May 21st, 2012 (9:49 pm)

    Noel Park: #37

    Well it works for the cell phone companies, so I guess Shai must figure it’ll work for BP too, LOL.

    The question is – why would you think it would not work? Ask any teenager if they like the idea of getting a car for free with a 7 year contract. They will answer just like they have answered around the world for their cell phones – Oh yeah!


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    May 21st, 2012 (9:59 pm)

    Open-Mind: Who would pay $5,000 per year for a battery charging service?My guess … nobody.

    IMO, long before that happens, Shai will declare bankruptcy leaving you with a $32K electric lawn ornament.Your better place will become a bitter place.I’m sure Shai has his golden parachute ready.

    Why would they have to charge $5000 for a battery charging service? They would only have to charge what it costs plus a margin to cover expenses. Right? It would be the same expenses as others would have to put out for building their charging stations. Right?

    By the time the new technology is out, all those current swap stations will be already paid for. Thus, they already have the advantage, can’t people see that? Hello?! The grid is already hooked up to the stations and already charging batteries at a near-quick-charge rates. (20 minutes for the BP battery pack).

    He who gets in first, has the advantage. Just ask Google, facebook, Amazon, etc. This is common business knowledge.

    Let us not forget the BP network that gives all that information to the drivers needing the next charge and how it distributes the charging in such a way as to level the demand for utilities. Any other system would also need to do that. Do people realize how hard it is to develop and mature a network like this? Just ask those super smart companies out there trying to unseat Windows. Windows still has an 80% market share for PCs in the world and in the enterprise. Why? the ecosystem has so much invested that to come in and take over takes an incredible amount of capital and time. This is the reality of complex systems.


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    May 21st, 2012 (10:04 pm)

    George B:
    OK…they have 4 stations and have spent $400 million and are months behind.Are we supposed to believe that a battery swapping station costs $100 million????This sounds REALLY fishy.What’s a Jiffy Lube cost to set up?

    You do realize that that there is a thing called product development, right? Ask yourself how much GM paid to bring out the Volt. If GM sold just one Volt, how much would they have to charge to break even? Yes, over 1 billion dollars.

    I thought this is common business knowledge. Millions of dollars are invested into products all over the world and investors realize it will take decades to see a healthy return on that investment.


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    May 21st, 2012 (10:15 pm)

    DonC: 1. A “few” different sizes always turns into a lot of different sizes over time.
    2. It’s the inventory problem. You start with one battery but in a few years you have to have to inventory all different kinds.
    3. I’d love to see a cite. Even my ever optimistic self doesn’t think this would work. For example, the half million dollars is a joke. It takes over $200,000 to put in a fast charger. No one can figure out a business case for a DC fast charger, and this would require an expensive battery swap facility and battery inventory on top of a DC fast charger.
    4. It’s easy to be up and running when you’re just spending money. The rub comes in when you have to make money. Just take the cost of ONE of these stations and figure out what utilization rate you’d need to make it fly.

    Misc Other Issues: You can’t use a thermal management system with this system and the apparent premature battery failures in Leafs in AZ suggest you want a TMS. The other big problem is that you have to charge all these batteries. Try doing that and demand charges at $25/kW will literally bankrupt you.

    1) Please refer to the D, AA, AAA, 9 Volt battery standards. Seems to work fine for 95% of the battery usage around the world. Yes, there are millions of other sizes but for the bulk of applications…

    2) Same as 1

    3) The reason why the DC charger that you quoted is so expensive is due to low volumes. How much do you think a modern ICE car would cost at similarly low volumes? Exactly. Economies of Scale.

    4) Easy to get it up and running? lol. Thank you for that! Read the forums here and tell me if that was the attitude back then. Most said the system would never work. Many said the car could never even be built. lol. Great! The critics slowly fade away, now it is just a question of financing. Oh, did you know that Better Places’ investors are some of the sharpest tools in the shed and have already gone though the business model with a fine toothed comb? They still decided to invest over .5 billion dollars. Huh, maybe you are more informed on the actual numbers?

    The proof in in the pudding and the Israel is the now fully functioning kitchen. All we have to do is sit back and watch the magic happen. Then Denmark, then Australia, then…


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    May 22nd, 2012 (1:47 pm)

    Texas: Or, ask them to choose from the following two options:

    1) Get the car for free with a 7 year contract
    2) Get financing for $40,000 for you new volt

    Hummmm, which shall I choose?

    Option #1 is imaginary. That makes the choice easy.