Better Place Finally Launches EV Battery Swapping Network in Israel

6 years ago by Lyle Dennis 2

The thing they said couldn’t be done has happened.  Silver-tongued CEO Shai Agassi has gotten many to bet the farm on his battery swapping electric car network concept.  The idea is for people to own and drive electric cars with 100 mile range leased exchangeable batteries.  When the battery gets low the driver pulls into a swapping station and gets a fully charged fresh battery.

Though Agassi environs the system working anywhere in the world, the first proof of concept network has been planned and developed for Israel.  Finally this week, that network has opened for business.

With over $400 million so far invested in the scheme the first four battery swapping stations are operational and accepting customers.  These first four stations are in central and northern Israel, and the company plans to open 40 more during the second half of the year.  There will be enough well placed stations that a motorist can make the 300 mile north-south journey across the entire country.

Presently there are 140 Renault Fluence electric vehicles on the road in Israel; these are the models specifically designed for the battery swaps.  They cost $32,000 a piece which is roughly comparable to similar sedans in that country.  Since gas prices in Israel are at $8 per gallon, the $300-$500 per month battery leasing fee is reasonable, and allows the isolated nation non-dependent on oil from unfriendly countries.

The Fluence goes on sale to the general public this week, and there are nearly 2000 on order, mostly for fleet use.  The company hopes to see about 5000 vehicles on the road within a year.

Better place is rolling out similar systems in Denmark, Australia, and Amsterdam, and small demonstration projects in Hawaii and California.

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

And so the real world experiment begins.  We wish them well.

Source (AP)

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2 responses to "Better Place Finally Launches EV Battery Swapping Network in Israel"

  1. It’s going to be much easier to reply the infrastructure (swapping stations) in small countries like Israel or Denmark. For instance, I think they only plan to open about 50 of them to cover all of Israel. Can you imagine how many we would need in the US? Thousands of them. Still, I hope this does work out well where they do launch it. One of Better Places executives lives in New Jersey and drives a volt and a BMW ActiveE and he and I talk frequently. I’m thinking about taking a trip to Israel to see how it’s working and he has promised me a Fluence to use while I’m there and a tour of the Better Place facilities. Now if only I can make the time to go!

    1. yuval Brandstetter MD says:

      Dear Tom

      Hi i am the owner of a Fluence ZE driven 12K KM in 4 months. Since i have many out of town engagements I frequently use the quick-drop stations to keep moving. Driving this car means you cannot go back to the mechanical gas car. Its so quiet and smooth. I do not rent or lease the battery. i pay for the miles I drive, and since i drive lots of them I elected to pre-pay for 60K miles at a rate of 11 cents a KM, which is about half of what gas would go for in real-word driving conditions, or the equivalent of a 4 dollar gas car in the States. The service i get from Better Place is second to none, I let them know when i arrive at a specific swap-station and they see to it that I can go right in.
      As for the States, yes it will take 50 times sixty (israel 6 million, the US 300 million inhabitants) but a 1 million a pop, that is a rounding error in Obama’s deficit, and five days worth of imported gasoline to convert the US to electric. With plentyful natural gas and sunshine (check out Brightsource in Ca) electric can flourish – unless tackled by the oil industry heavyweights.
      I you do come to israel please drop me a line. i am a customer, not an employee or affiliate of BP
      Y Brandstetter MD, 972542080391 (cell)