Better Place Delivers Electric Cars, Battery Swaps Become Real

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better place battery switch station 007

better place battery switch station 007

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Electric car battery swapping stations became reality yesterday as Better Place started delivering all-electric Renault Fluence Z.E. cars to customers in Israel. 

Unlike regular electric cars, Renault was commissioned to build the Fluence Z.E. with a battery pack that could be removed by automated machinery and replaced with a freshly-charged one in a few minutes. 

In fact, the battery swapping process is so fast that switching battery packs is quicker than filling up a gasoline car at the gas station. 

Not only does the process eliminate the need to plug an electric car in, but it also gives electric cars unlimited range, provided battery swapping stations are available.

But providing a battery swap station in every town is a costly business: each Better Place swap station costs around $500,000 to build. 

2012 Renault Fluence Z.E.

2012 Renault Fluence Z.E.

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That’s more than 20 times the cost of installing a basic rapid DC charging station, and several hundred times more expensive than installing a level 2 charging station. 

But Better Place executive Shai Agassi isn’t interested in immediate costs. For him, the battery swap stations represent a future where electric cars can be treated as equals with gasoline cars, offering unlimited range, simple refueling and an end to range anxiety. 

It sounds great, but there’s a little catch: cost.

In order to take part, customers of Better Place have to purchase a 2012 Renault Fluence Z.E. from Renault, without a battery pack. 

Then then have to enter a monthly contract with Better Place to cover battery leasing and use of the swap stations. 

2012 Renault Fluence Z.E.

2012 Renault Fluence Z.E.

Enlarge Photo

In Denmark -- which will soon follow Israel with deliveries of Better Place cars in a few weeks’ time -- customers will be paying between $270 and $517 per month to cover battery leasing, mileage, charging, and swap-station costs.

And that’s on top of buying -- or leasing -- the actual car. 

While Better Place is likely to gain customers in the corporate and fleet car market, we’re still unsure if mainstream car buyers will be willing to stump up the extra cash every month just for the facility of driving more than 100 miles without having to worry about recharging. 

What do you think? Let us know in the Comments below. 


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Comments (19)
  1. Just think of how many fast chargers you could install for the cost of one of these stations. Blimey.

  2. DC fast chargers need 30 minutes for only 100 miles.

    You cannot charge 2 cars at the same time.

    If there is someone charging at a DC fast charging station
    wait 30 minutes, then another 30 minutes to get only 100 miles..
    that's one hour for only 100 miles.

    DC fast chargers will overload the Grid as EV sales increase.
    No such problem with Better Place.

    Better Place has over 700 million so they can build lot's of battery swapping stations around the world.

    Take a 3 minute battery swap, an EV cheaper than petrol cars and a monthly payment around what you pay today for gasoline every month and you have the new Apple.


  3. More than 70,000 wait to get their BP cars. How much did LEAF and Volt sold a year AFTER launch?

    LEAF and Volt makes no sense..

    Including the battery cost in the price of the car makes no sense at all.

    "When you buy a gasoline car, nobody asks you to buy 10,000 gallons with it," he (Shai) said. "You shouldn't ask somebody to buy the equivalent of 10,000 gallons of driving in the form of a battery."


  4. The Leaf and Volt make perfect sense. Just because you don't like them and from the sound of it you can't afford them, doesn't make them nonsensical.

  5. It takes the same amount of energy to recharge a swapped battery, as one that is fixed in the car. These swap stations will need additional heavy duty power to be recharging the packs.

  6. Well, one thing we can conclude from looking at Agassi's pricing : the concept was a lot more attractive in the abstract, when he was talking about how much cheaper electricity is than gasoline. Since he didn't mention the 800 pound gorilla called battery costs, we can anticipate claims of fraud coming from those who followed him and his magic flute. Forking out over $60,000 for 10 years fueling of an econobox won't be particularly attractive to anyone, I don't believe. Makes the Tesla Model S look like an absolute bargain.

  7. The reason Israel is onboard is because they have no oil resources of their own, they have to rely on their neighbors, who hate them and some actively are trying to destroy them. So it makes sense in a national securoty point.

  8. I only see this as being nessary for the current crop of EVs, but most EV drivers right now don't have a compatible car for this service. But also the type of people who currenly drive EVs are well aware of what their car do and are able to manage without such services. And with battery technology only improving it may not be long before Better Place ends up in a better place.

  9. Sorry, typo. aware of what their car can do......

  10. Better place needs the dealers to sign up the customers. its fine if you make this part of the sales experience.

    ok just afew bits more, schlomo.

    Do you want the extended warranty?
    XM Radio?
    wax coat?
    Better place battery?

  11. $500K is a lot compared to a charger but cheap compared to a as station..
    A station can run $5 Million.

  12. Realistically, if the battery swap time is that quick then then number of need stations will go down a lot.
    Station infrastructure-wise they need to be carefully located to sit as close to a main high voltage feeder in the same way that most aluminum smelters sit adjacent to electrical sources because of the the amount of use. Oddly I expect that a battery swap station will be an overall load leveler for the power grid. It isn't important how recently your battery was charge; only that it is. The station could level 2 charge 20-50 batteries at once in staggered schedules keeping spare level 3 chargers on standby to deal with peak swapping demand.

    Even better for the lazy, forgetful or rich will be delivery swaps so you never have to go.

  13. After driving my Leaf for 10,000 miles, it makes lots of sense. And every morning I wake up and it's already full and ready to go. This weekend I drove 80 miles out to LA and charged it for free at a solar powered station while I shopped, ate, and hung out with friends. I don't need monthly battery fees to weigh me down.

  14. Remember that although there is a monthly charge for usage, the consumer does not pay for the battery so the car that is being sold sells for much less than the gas model equivalent.

  15. Upside: it solves the main problem with batteries, long recharge times without having to wait for better battery tech.

    Downside: it doesn't solve the cost problem because before tax breaks it's still a lot more expensive than ICE motoring. I think even the very expensive to build plug-in hybrids like the Volt may be a cheaper solution than this.
    More importantly: you really don't want to create a huge battery/charging infrastructure monopolist that depends for it's survival on new battery tech not reaching the market. Oil companies have been in that position for many decades and I have little doubt that the glacial pace of battery tech development had a lot to do with this.

  16. nope. give me a Tesla that can go 300 miles on a charge and recharge in a few hours.

  17. I really like to see a standard size swappable battery pack across all EV's so that "fillup" can become a reality at any gas station. Or just convert cars to propane and swap out propane tanks like we do at Lowe's and Home Depot. OIl is so lame and so corrupt and so 20th Century!

  18. I think if they can compete with mid-size or compact car monthly prices and battery contract is around the same (preferably less than) what it costs for gas each month then I think they have a strong chance of being successful. Its like paying what they are paying now with more convenience, (possibly) saving the world, and could be cheaper.

  19. this model works but really depends on having the network built out. buying a glider cant be that much money? maybe $15,000. so paying cash for it, then $200 a month or whatever for free charging. compare that to a Leaf. put $15,000 down, finance 20,000 so that is $350 a month for 6 years or so plus $30 a month for electricity and being tied to slow charging at home.

    not sure i see a huge disadvantage. now the price ranges mentioned up to $500 a month needs to be weighed against gas prices. its expensive to drive period.

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