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Better Place Battery Swap Stations Head to China

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What’s the best way to ensure that your electric vehicle technology gets adopted by as many consumers as possible? 

Take it to China, of course. 

That’s exactly what electric car infrastructure firm Better Place has done, with the announcement that it has signed a strategic agreement with the world’s eighth largest utility to provide battery swap stations in the area of China serviced by China Southern Grid (CSG).  [Edit to clarify information  -The deal comes hot on the heels of an announcement made by the world's largest utility company, the State Grid Corporation of China detailing plans to install 2,300 battery switch stations by the end of 2015.]

"China Southern Grid is an important partner in a huge market that is moving quickly toward the mass-market development of electric cars and is embracing battery switch as the primary means of range extension," Better Place Founder and CEO Shai Agassi said at the signing ceremony in Guangzhou province. "Our collaboration with China Southern and the support of the Guangzhou government open the door to new opportunities for switchable-battery electric cars made by Chinese manufacturers for the domestic and export markets."

The support Agassi references is well beyond anything he could hope for in North America. Under the accord, the Guangzhou government will ‘encourage’ local automakers to build electric cars that are compatible with the Better Place swapping stations, meaning locally produced electric cars which can make use of the stations and extend the daily range of electric cars in the area. 

Of course, there are other advantages too. By making compatible cars locally, the Guangzhou government helps stimulate economy and ensures manufacturing costs can be kept low. 

In addition to encouraging automakers to make cars with compatible fast-swap packs, the agreement also promises to promote the use of electric vehicles in fleets within the province, from taxi firms through to public-sector vehicles. 

The metaphorical jackpot outlined in the agreement could transform Better Place from an expensive and under-used technology into something that could then be rolled out worldwide at much less cost. 

After all, with 230 million potential customers, Better Place could soon become as ubiquitous as the gas pump for Chinese electric car owners.

[Better Place]

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Comments (16)
  1. Shai Agassi and the PRC? A marriage made in heaven if I ever saw one, LOL. As my mother always says, "they deserve each other".
     
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  2. The only way full electric cars will be adopted by the masses is if it is cheaper and has no issue of range limitation. This is further demonstrated by the low rate of market penetration of both the Leaf and the Volt. They have their place but ultimately they are either more expensive or limited in range, or both.
    Better Place solves both these problems. China understands this, and when they want something done, they just do it. China will leap ahead, and the US will have no choice but play catch-up.
     
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  3. @ Corina. Actually, electric cars, without the battery, are cheaper than ICE cars. Battery (over its lifetime) + electricity per mile is cheaper than gasoline. Specifically, a battery + electricity is about 4 cents per mile, compared to gasoline which is about 12 cents a mile. In addition, batteries keep on getting cheaper whereas oil prices continue rising. Even at today’s prices the running costs of an EV is about 3 times cheaper (depending on the country) than gasoline. The EV taxi makes allot of sense. In fact Better Place had a switchable battery EV taxi pilot program running in Tokyo for over half a year with great success, and now San Francisco signed a deal with Better Place to provide 60 electric taxis starting at the end of next
     
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  4. Any way you slice it, this is a HUGE opportunity for Better Place. Small countries like Israel and Denmark are one thing. China (albeit in only 5 Provinces) is an entirely different ball game. If battery swapping can gain a foothold in China, it's going to make their earlier partnerships with other countries pale in comparison. China Southern Power Grid Company is one of two state run power companies in China, meaning that it is state sponsored. Meaning hundreds of millions of dollars at it's disposal.
     
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  5. Also China Southern Power Grid Company is located in and provides services to Guangdong providence, the richest providence in China. If Better Place can structure, scale, and implement it's vision in China, and if it proves successful to Chinese consumers, it's a game changer. For China!
     
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  6. @Shnaz. Great point Shanz! Even the International Energy Agency (IEA) has changed it's outlook on available oil in the world. They now say that the world's crude oil production peaked back in 2006, and their chief economist Fatih Birol believes that oil prices could see as much as a 30 percent increase over the next three years! That makes electricity a cheaper alternative with each passing day.
     
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  7. Better Place should fold their tents and go home.
    battery charging technology has rendered their complicated and very costly system totally obsolete.
    No one wants to be dependent upon a lease and have to pay for service from a monopolistic provider..
     
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  8. @ Kent Beuchert. I guess China disagrees with your analysis.
     
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  9. China is the world's largest manufacturer of Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries, so you know it has a vested interest in seeing electric cars get up and running. This was inevitable. I can only hope that the U.S. is getting the message. Wake up and smell the killowatts! :-)
     
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  10. China owns Li sourcing from Bolivia. As for being dependent....on a monopolistic provider....to me, the per mile $ will make the difference....it is only so long they can charge you for the technology added to the freely shining, eternal sun. I guess Kent prefers the present petrodictators and corporate welfare regime of present to BPs vision
     
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  11. @ Kent - There's the American spirit. Go get 'em tiger. Seriously though. Now we just need to switch more to wind, solar, geothermal, and ocean turbine power. Better Place solved the two biggest problems in the electric car industry, charge time and cost of a replacement battery. It is looking better and better for the electric car because it's going to be cheaper and renewable, unlike gas. Of course, we will still need gas and coal, but if we rely more on the power sources I listed above, then we certainly won't be using as much of it. That cannot be a bad thing. China is being smart......the U.S. is falling behind with resistance to change. That is futile.
     
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  12. @ Kent - There's the American spirit. Go get 'em tiger. Seriously though. Now we just need to switch more to wind, solar, geothermal, and ocean turbine power. Better Place solved the two biggest problems in the electric car industry, charge time and cost of a replacement battery. It is looking better and better for the electric car because it's going to be cheaper and renewable, unlike gas. Of course, we will still need gas and coal, but if we rely more on the power sources I listed above, then we certainly won't be using as much of it. That cannot be a bad thing. China is being smart......the U.S. is falling behind with resistance to change. That is futile.
     
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  13. @ Kent - the only thing monopolistic about it is the switching station. Obviously you will still be able to charge your car at home. Since you lease the battery, Better Place pays for your charge time.....at your house. They rebate it off the price of the lease. Also, don't you think other companies could do the same thing? Have their own switching stations. Better Place doesn't have a copyright on all switching technology, only their own.
     
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  14. @Kent As oppossed to the monopolistic Oil providers that control our every move with the rise and fall of Oil prices. At least this is clean, and ends the polution of 50% of the oil we burn in 10 years. If we use renewables like Wind, solar,(Which just had a huge breakthrough) and a little more Nuclear as oppossed to coal, we could take away 90% of our fosil fuel footprint in a short time of 15-20 years. The plan is brilliant, but our politicians are just too bought off by big oil and gas to do the right thing. Instead we will let china corner the market on this and once again follow with our heads down. We are a stupid country!
     
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  15. EV industry is not just only a future of automotive but even the social infrastructure of power supply. 30min. of time for quick battery charge does not give any value and charging posts in city area would not help either. Based on the standard of battery cartridge, switching it ahytime at cell stations located everywhere might be the right picture to lead EV as next generation automotive and power supply source. Also, in order to maximize the efficiency of the battery, well tunded cell balancer control and charge/discharge history management LSI solution will be mandatory.
     
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  16. EV industry is not just only a future of automotive but even the social infrastructure of power supply. 30min. of time for quick battery charge does not give any value and charging posts in city area would not help either. Based on the standard of battery cartridge, switching it ahytime at cell stations located everywhere might be the right picture to lead EV as next generation automotive and power supply source. Also, in order to maximize the efficiency of the battery, well tunded cell balancer control and charge/discharge history management LSI solution will be mandatory.
     
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