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Better Place Lives On? 15 Battery-Swap Stations To Stay Open

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Better Place Battery Swap Station

Better Place Battery Swap Station

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When companies like Tesla Motors start talking battery-swapping technology, you get the feeling Israeli firm Better Place just hit the market too soon.

Although Better Place (BP) filed for bankruptcy back in May, some companies have shown an interest in keeping its battery-swapping stations running--a plan that now seems to have succeeded.

As Gas2 reports, Israeli courts have approved a bid by businessman Josef Abramowitz and his company Sunrise SL to buy the company's assets.

That includes BP's 15 operational battery-swap stations, as well as other real estate owned by the bankrupt electric startup. What's more, Sunrise SL is looking to buy the intellectual property rights of the battery swap process itself from the Danish arm of Better Place.

The upshot is that the entire Better Place concept could be revived, along with the network of swapping stations used by those who purchased or leased the electric Renault Fluence sedan through the scheme.

Renault's car is the sole vehicle associated with the scheme, but Renault distanced itself from BP's troubles, pointing out that only a fraction of its sales originated from that side of the business.

For Better Place--or at least its business model--Abramowitz and Sunrise SL could be just what is required.

The businessman brings prior experience of running green businesses to BP, the most significant a solar power company that opened a large solar field in Israel two years ago.

Following his initial announcement of interest in Better Place, he released a statement saying, "It's worth a try. The owners/drivers are driving this, and am happy to play a supporting role. It has become clear now how much Better Place failed not only on the business front, but on the political and regulatory front. Could have been avoided. Good luck to everyone!"

It's too early to say whether the company will fully rise from the ashes, but for Better Place's old customers, the revived battery-swap stations will at least be a few welcoming embers.

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Comments (4)
  1. I hope that Sunrise SL is able to keep BP going. It was a good idea, but terribly executed and badly timed.
     
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  2. Better Place was at the bleeding edge of technology and paid the price. But I'm pretty confident the basic idea is sound and not dead by any means. Right now, and until there is some unknown leap in battery storage technology, battery swapping is the only way of giving potential owners the full confidence that they can travel long distances and get "refuelled" in a timely manner. Also, the idea of leasing the battery rather than owning it outright, and paying instead for miles (or kilometers) - just like one pays for minutes with a cell phone plan - also makes sense, if correctly explained.
     
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  3. Another reason that Better Place failed here in Israel is that typical (oy!) Israeli car owner/driver's first question to himself and the salesman is how much will he be able to sell his car for on the secondhand market. For the BP car the answer was a resounding: little or none. Whether because the battery was "not included" or people had figured (probably correctly) that the technology would be upgraded before the car was going to be up for secondhand sale, the lack of that option was and is a big, big minus in the car owning population. I still like this car very much. So we'll see...
     
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  4. Speaking as an owner of one of the 900 cars out on the road (and not a former BP employee or leaser of a car through a rental agent), I agree with both Jeff O and Jack G. But a few additional observations:
    I read last week about the 100,000 electric vehicles on the road in the US, which I thought was a large number, until I did the math: With 900 cars on the road in this country of 7 million (total population), the number of the Fluence ZE EV's on the road compared to total population and total vehicles is probably higher than in the U.S., and that surprised me.
     
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