Electric-Car Battery Swapping: What Do You Want To Ask Better Place?

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Renault Fluence ZE electric cars in Israel, provided by Better Place [photo: Better Place]

Renault Fluence ZE electric cars in Israel, provided by Better Place [photo: Better Place]

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If you’ve followed electric cars for a while, you’ll probably be familiar with the concept of swapping out a depleted battery pack with a freshly-charged one in the same amount of time it takes to fill a car with gasoline. 

Better Place, the first company to try and commercialize that technology, is on the cusp of opening its doors to public electric car drivers later on this year. 

We’ve already heard from an early Better Place Customer, but now it’s time to find out what goes on behind the scenes at Better Place.

How does battery swapping work? What is Better Place’s business model? And how is it possible to ensure that electric car owners can always get a freshly-charged battery, day or night? 

In a little under a week, we’ll be guests of Better Place at its Israeli headquarters, meeting the people and the technology behind Better Place’s dream to electrify the cars of an entire nation.

We’ll be talking to Better Place’s founder and CEO Shai Agassi, along with Better Place investors, engineers and customers, to learn about everything from its network of conventional charging stations through to its customer experience centers, battery swap stations and OSCAR telematics systems.

Of course, we’ll be asking all the important questions, taking lots of photographs and capturing some live video, but are there any questions you want answered?

Maybe you’re worried about battery reliability? Perhaps you want to know when the scheme will go public in Better Place’s other key markets of Hawaii and Denmark? Or are you worried that Better Place is nothing more than a Monopoly on Electric Cars

Whatever your questions, let us know them in the Comments below, and we’ll do our best to get answers on your behalf. 


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Comments (17)
  1. In theory battery swapping should work, it is just looking at a much larger infrastructure issue than non swapping plug ins. Having a more controlled area to start in gives it a better way to sort out operations and logistics of the system. Israel is about the size of New Jersey, and (while I could be wrong) they're not a lot of Israels making car trips to neighboring countries.

  2. I have two questions
    1) Will Better Place open in Southern California?
    2) Is there any planned interoperability between Better Place vehicles and the OEM EVs?

  3. The obstacles to full market adoption appear to be part bureaucratic and part price. Pertaining to the price obstacle, what specific technological advancements are most important to bringing the price down to the level appropriate to tip the scale to eventual full market adoption?

  4. I'm sorry but I still don't see Better Place as a long term solution, when battery technology takes it's next big step forward giving us improved charge time why would we still want to swap? Swapping seems like a decent idea given the range and charge times of currently available EVs but there is only one model from one brand that can use it, and once more cars possibly become available that could use BP a better battery will come along and make swapping unnecessary. Better Place seems to be just another one of those wacky charging ideas that only attends to current issues that will be solved sometime in the near future anyway, level 3 charging can bridge the gap for now, while we wait for lithium-air batteries for example.

  5. Do you use a brick cell phone? Because you know if you did you could probably get about a year of talk time on it with current batteries. But probably you find it more convenient to have one that fits in your pocket, and has lots of features, and for that you don't mind plugging it in once a day or so. Similarly no one will want a 500-mile battery, stranding 90% of your asset 90% of the time. After about 150-miles, you would rather smaller, cheaper -- and quickly switchable on the occasional roadtrip. And while level 3 charging might overcome some issues around the battery, whose paying the $10 trillion to upgrade grid to charge thousands of 500 mile batteries across region in two hours? In any scenario, you need switchability.

  6. I never said anything about going 500 miles per charge, a lithium-air battery pack could vary in size. And no I wouldn't want a major component of my car pulled out once every 150 miles just for the sake of filling up. As soon as a faster charging battery comes to market, swapping will not be needed. And if your so worried about what the grid can handle, why are you only worried about the impact of EVs? There are so many items in our homes using power unnecessarily right now I couldn't even begin to list them all. Reduced consumption can fix that issue, I've already reduced my electrical consumption so much that plugging-in 2 or even 3 electric cars won't matter.

  7. Better Place is future proof..

    The "magical" 300 mile battery that costs under $1000 is at least a decade away.

    EEstor battery will probably never happen and lithium-air battery technology is still at it's infancy..

    And when that magical battery finally becomes available guess what?

    BPlace will roll the new batteries into their network making the monthly subscription dead cheap!!

    That's why BPlace is future proof. They buy-sell batteries..


  8. Better Place is future proof of what?

    What I've been saying basically is there are a lot of ideas out there to satisfy impatient consumers, and Better Place is one of those ideas.

  9. My question is will Better Place try to get a standards body, like SAE, to define a standard for a swappable battery and the compartment in the car where it is inserted? It seems to me that, without a standard, Better Place will always have a limited number of vehicles for the public to choose from. The Better Place model will only really take off if there are a big variety of available cars for it to operate in.

  10. Better Place I view as basically either a phony solution to the problems of electric transportation, or a downright fraudulent enterprise from Agassi. Agassi has seemingly convinced whole govts that the obstacle to EVs lies in range restrictions and recharge times. Sorry, but the monster obstacle to electric cars is the price of batteries, which Better Place does nothing to solve - they actually make the electrical storage costs greater, not less, primarily because of their "added value" operations. And they are a monopoly. One has to realize that one is not saving money by buying a smaller battery pack (or leasing the pack) : long term, overall battery costs end up being the same regardless of the size of the pack.

  11. As batteries improve and the miliage increases, how does Better Places plan to continue to improve their technology to keep up with the battery/auto manufacturers. If, eventually, we have an EV with a 300 mile life battery, won't this technology not be needed?

  12. Form factor, and interface standards have to be universally adopted for battery swap to gain significant adoption.

    Price has to present a savings to consumers, rather than an additional cost.

    How does A Better Place plan to overcome these obstacles, and in what time frame?

  13. Bow does Better Place guarantee that a consumer at some point won't get stuck with a "bad battery?" (Happens all the time with common rechargeable batteries... You think it's "full" but once you start using it, the life just "dies.")

    How would a Better Place kind of setup work in a country as large as the US, where one STATE could be 6 or 7 times larger in area than your current areas of operation like Israel? Wouldn't a US operation require like HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS of battery swap places to cover the whole nation? (I would think it's "easier" to build dedicated charging stations?)

  14. Video:

    All of the following video is amazing to watch:


    Entire US filled with 10,000 Battery Switch Stations in 3 months (23min:02secs)

    Price of brand new 100% electric SUV’s $5,000! (24min:55secs)


  15. will you provide roaming between different charging networks
    and what will it cost

    will you have a option for cars that don't support battery swap to pay as needed
    or will you only sell packets 10.000 / 20.000 / unlimited

    what is the strategy for placement of charges (shopping / highway / ferry / airport) and what level (1 / 2 / 3)

    for what reason do customers need charging outside of home/work (where / when / way)

    can your customers charge at a normal 230V 12A outlet (hotel or other emergency)

  16. Wait a minute. Why would EV buyers subcribe to a business model that makes them dependent on a vendor? I would prefer higher capacity light battery technology, on board recharging systems (solar cell on body, regenerative braking, etc.), coupled with solar panels at home. This business model would be a very last resort. Next thing you know they'll make charging your EV car from the sun or wind illegal.

  17. To get the EV at half the price of the Nissan LEAF.
    People subscribe to cell phone companies
    and get the cell phones half price or even lower.



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