Better Place Customers In Hawaii Can Breath Easy As Charging Stations Have New Home

MAR 15 2013 BY JAY COLE 7

Happier Times: Better Place Announces That Their Charging Network Would Be Coming To Hawaii In December of 2008

Happier Times: Better Place Announces That Their Charging Network Would Be Coming To Hawaii In December of 2008

Better Place has not enjoyed a lot of success since it opened its first charging station in December 2008 near Tel Aviv, Israel.  In fact, we don’t think they have enjoyed any.

Better Place Founder And Original CEO, Shai Agassi Shakes Hands With Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle In 2008

Better Place Founder And Original CEO, Shai Agassi Shakes Hands With Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle In 2008

The company has raised over $700 million, and had hoped to be the premiere charging and battery swapping station leader around globe.

Unfortunately, things did no go as planned.

Now on their fourth CEO in the last 6 months, and quickly running out of money,  the company as decided to “focus” on the few places in the world where it might have a chance to survive (or at least still has some willing investors) – Israel and Denmark.

Which means for all the other places in the world that Better Place had been attempting to do business, such as Australia, China, and notably Hawaii in the US, many questions were left unanswered.  Would Better Place  leave?  What about the charging infrastructures that were in place already, would they be shuttered?  Sold off?

For Hawaii, the 650+ Better Place customers can now relax knowing that the 154 charging station, located at 77 charge points in the state will continue to operate without interruption, as Better Place has now off-loaded sold its entire charging network to OpConnect, ensuring that those stations will remain active.

OpConnect Took Over Better Place's Hawaii Chare Points Effective March 8th, 2013

OpConnect Took Over Better Place’s Hawaii Chare Points Effective March 8th, 2013

Jason Wolf, Vice-President of North America for Better Place (at least for a few more days) said of the stations new owner:

“With OpConnect’s combination of technology, customer focus and commitment to Hawaii, we believe EV drivers who use our network and our site-owner partners will be in great hands with OpConnect.  The ecosystem in Hawaii has been tremendously supportive of Better Place and I’m confident it will help ensure OpConnect’s success for the benefit of the Aloha State.”

The stations remain open and free to the public…that is until March 31st, 2013 (happy Easter), when OpConnect initiates new pricing, which was undisclosed at time of press.

PRNewswire, hat tip to Kane

Categories: Charging

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7 Comments on "Better Place Customers In Hawaii Can Breath Easy As Charging Stations Have New Home"

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are there any battery swap stations in Hawaii?

Nope Herm, all conventional L2 charge points.

Better Place Hawaii had by far the largest public charging network in Hawaiʻi, so it’s good to know that OpConnect has promised to replace all of Better Place Hawaii’s charging stations with their own. Both Better Place Hawaii and OpConnect have contacted me about these changes, so so far, so good.

But all this could sour if OpConnect implements charging fees that do not make economic since. Hawaii has very high electricity rates (~30¢/kWh on Oʻahu), so the cost of electricity is probably a greater portion of the total charging costs than in most mainland locations. Because of this, charging purely by the hour is less fair to those of us whose EV’s have small 3.3 kW chargers compared with EV’s with 6.6 kW and larger chargers. Hopefully, OpConnect can figure a way to charge based on the amount of electricity used plus the amount of time using their charging station.

I believe the ChargePros can identify the rate of electricity a car can take and charge accordingly. I wonder if they could help in Hawaii or elsewhere.

The irony here is the whole concept of BetterPlace is to eliminate the need for public charging stations, as the convenient availability of fully charged battery packs would make them redundant. I’m still a big fan of BP (another irony?) in that I have to believe that 50 years down the road replacing depleted automobile battery packs will be as easy as replacing old-style cell phone batteries, and they’ll be much smaller, lighter and more efficient, whether they’re made of lithium crystals, beryllium spheres or unobtainium. I applaud BP’s efforts to jump start this concept to this obvious endgame. However, I also felt that BP’s initial concept of buying and selling kWH via cell phone style subscriptions and V2H2G networks seemed implausible, and got in the way of battery pack improvements. Just give me the ability to exchange my pack for a 200 mile range pack in minutes at former gasoline stations, and I’ll be happy. I’ll even spring for the $10 they’ll charge me, as the cost of the packs will be paid for by a small portion of the $100s of billions saved in not buying foreign or drilling for domestic oil. s we currently don’t “own” the… Read more »

I think the whole point of PBP was to decouple the cost of the batteries from the cost of the car.. then charge a battery lease fee that was lower than monthly fuel costs, and adjustable by how many miles you drove. Obviously they have to be able to easily remove the battery if you stop making payments on its lease. The potential of an EV that cost the same or less than a conventional car.

I think the point of PBP was a company (with some governmental ties) trying to make money wedging themselves in between the OEM and the consumer. Unfortunately, the reality is that the consumer is being much more price conscious/independent than was originally expected.

The swap concept is sound for those who do need extended trips on a regular basis, but the amount of those people was either grossly overestimated, or they were not willing to buy such into such a concept until a useful infrastructure was already in place.

Most current EV owners (I believe) want autonomy “from the system” with their EVs. And for the rest, they are simply going to wait out more range/more infrastructure at a lower price before getting a BEV…as opposed to engaging gas station 2.0 (swap stations).

For those who need the extra range, and still want to be as close to an electic vehicle as they can, they have the Volt/Energi/PIPs of the world to choose from while they wait on affordable 300+ mile EVs. I think the PHEV strikes a nice balance for where we are at this point in time.