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Let’s Begin… Forget about the hybrid auto -- Shai Agassi says it's electric cars or bust if we want to impact emissions. His company, Better Place, has a radical plan to take entire countries oil-free by 2020. A new ecosystem for electric cars - Shai Agassi
- 18 min
- Business Model
- Energy Sources
- Cars and Batteries
- Battery-Swapping Stations
- Markets and Pricing
- Similar Projects
The company was publicly launched on October 29, 2007, as Project Better Place, by Shai Agassi, the company's founder and CEO at the time. According to Agassi, his vision was inspired by a question asked by Klaus Schwab at the 2005 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland: "How do you make the world a better place by 2020?" As of January 2011 it had raised $700 million, and about a third was spent in setting up the battery switch stations. Also, several countries and states had offered tax...
In October 2nd, 2012, Agassi resigned from his role as worldwide Better Place CEO, and was replaced by Evan Thornley, CEO of Better Place-Australia. Agassi briefly remained on the company board, but a week later he resigned from that position as well. A few days after Thornley's appointment, Better Place asked its investors for a round of emergency funding, totalling about $100 million. On October 29, 2012, Ynetreported that Better Place would that week lay off 150 to 200 of its 400-person st...
Post-bankruptcy acquisition attempts and liquidation
In July 2013, an attempt to acquire Better Place was made by the Sunrise group that comprised entrepreneur Yosef Abramowitz and the Association for the Advancement of Electric Transportation in Israel. Court filings showed that the acquisition would be worth 18 million Israeli shekels (US$5 million) for Better Place's assets in Israel, and 25 million Israeli shekels (US$7 million) for its intellectual property, held by Better Place Switzerland. The deal was canceled by the court after the Sun...
History of the battery swap concept
The steam car, the internal combustion engine automobile, and the electric caremerged as the main competing technologies in the late 1890s until the 1920s. The concept of exchangeable battery service was first proposed as early as 1896 in order to overcome the limited operating range of electric cars and trucks. The concept was first put into practice by Hartford Electric Light Company through the GeVeCo battery service and was initially available for electric trucks. The vehicle owner purcha...
Better Place business model
Better Place implemented a business model wherein customers entered into subscriptions to purchase driving distance similar to the mobile telephone industry from which customers contract for minutes of airtime. The initial cost of an electric vehicle might also have been subsidized by the ongoing per-distance revenue contract just as mobile handset purchases are subsidized by per-minute mobile service contracts. Better Place's goal was to enable electric cars to sell for $5,000 less than the...
Agassi stated that the company's plan was to have the network's electricity generated entirely by renewable energy from solar arrays and wind farms if necessary, thus invalidating the "long-smokestack" accusation leveled against electric vehicles which rely on the nonrenewable sources of the electricity. However, achieving the 100% renewable energygoal would have depended on the local electric grid's energy sources. In Israel, where the first Better Place deployment took place, the electric grid is based mostly on fossil fuels, rendering the renewable energy vision practically impossible in the short term.
The first prototype car was the Renault Laguna with a battery instead of a fuel tank and an electric motor instead of an internal combustion engine. The battery for electric vehicles was a Lithium iron phosphate ion device. The range of the car running on just one battery was from about 160 kilometres (99 mi) to 190 kilometres (120 mi). By replacing the battery at a battery switch station, the range between longer chargingstops was to be limited only by the geographical distribution of the battery-swapping infrastructure. The second demo car was the Nissan eRogue, an electric car based on the Renault-Nissan Rogue, halfway between a sedan and an SUV in size. The Renault Fluence Z.E. was announced at the Frankfurt Motor Show on September 15, 2009 as the first electric car to be available on the Better Place network using a switchable battery. Shai Agassi said that EVs had to be priced at $5,000 less than the price of the average gasoline car to be successful. In April 2010 Renault ann...
With areas around cities covered with battery switching stations, also called battery-swap stations, drivers would potentially have electric cars with an unlimited driving range for long-distance trips. The QuickDrop battery switch system would enable Renault Fluence Z.E.'s battery, the only vehicle deployed in the Better Place network, to be swapped in approximately three minutes at dedicated battery exchange stations. The actual robotic battery-switching operation took about five minutes in the deployed stations. While each exchange station would cost $500,000,The then CEO of Better Place, Shai Agassi, said that cost would be half the price of a typical petroleum fuelling station. In order to access the battery switch station, Better Place customers would have to swipe their membership card. The remaining process was fully automated, similar to going through a car wash, so the driver never had to leave the car. In Better Place's demonstration battery switch stations, a robotic arm...
As of 2010[update], the company had raised US$700 million from various sources including, VantagePoint Venture Partners, Israel Corporation (33% ownership), Israel Cleantech Ventures, HSBC, Morgan Stanley, Acorns to Oaks II, Esarbee Investments Canada, GC Investments LLC, Musea Ventures, Ofer Group, Vyikra Partners, Wolfensohn & Co. and Maniv Energy Capital. In late 2007, Agassi began raising US$111 million in Series-A funding for the project, one of the largest and fastest seed rounds in history. Investors included VantagePoint Venture Partners, Israel Corporation, Israel Cleantech Ventures, Morgan Stanley, and private investors led by Michael Granoff of Maniv Energy Capital. In 2009, the company raised an additional US$135 million for Better Place Denmark, including an investment from DONG Energy, the leading utility in Denmark. Following the announcement in Israel, Better Place said it had launched its network in Denmark, Australia and in two Uni...
In March 2008, Deutsche Bank analysts issued a glowing report on the company stating that its approach could be a "paradigm shift" that caused "massive disruption" to the auto industry, and which had "the potential to eliminate the gasoline engine altogether."Three months later, the same institution issued a second report, finding "electric vehicles destined for much more growth than is widely perceived". The same report stated that "[i]mprovements in battery technology will allow for increased power, increased electrical propulsion, and bigger gains in fuel economy." On June 26, 2008, Shai Agassi testified before the United States House of Representatives Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. The hearing, titled "$4 Gasoline and Fuel Economy: Auto Industry at a Crossroads," dealt with the future role of the auto industry and the federal government in fighting gas prices and the fuel economy standards proposed in response to the enactment of the Energy Independ...
In Australia a roll-out of 500 charge stations was planned to begin in the major eastern coast cities before expanding nationally. It was estimated that these would give comparable coverage to the existing 13,000 petrol stations then in operation.The total cost of this roll out was claimed to be between $1 to $1.25 billion AUD. The first charge spot was installed in Canberra in late 2011, but in January 2013, after fewer than 20 public charge spots had been installed the roll...
In 2011, Better Place announced an agreement with China Southern Power Grid Company, the world's eighth-largest utility company. Before the end of the year, Better Place was going to open a battery switch station and joint education center in the southern city of Guangzhou. Shai Agassi said that China Southern Grid was embracing battery switch as the primary means of range extension.China Southern Grid Chairman Zhao Jianguo said that the battery-switch model might become mainstream in China a...
Better Place partnered with Denmark's leading energy company, DONG Energy, in a €103 million Euro (770 million Danish Kroner) investment to introduce electric cars and infrastructure to Denmark. The country currently generates 20% of its electric power from wind energy, but much of it is exported because there is currently no way for utilities to store the excess power. Using the Better Place model, DONG hoped to take advantage of the existing electric grid and electric vehicle batteries to h...
Edmunds.com selected battery-charging infrastructure developers Coulomb Technologies and Better Place as recipients of its first annual Green Car Breakthrough Award.In 2010, Shai Agassi was included at number 28 in a list of the 100 Top Global Thinkers published by Foreign Policy magazine, for his efforts to make electric cars a mass-market success.
A number of companies have announced plans to install charging station networks. In France, Électricité de France (EDF) and Toyota announced plans to provide recharging points for PHEVs on roads, streets and parking lots. EDF also announced a partnership with Elektromotive, Ltd. to install 250 new charging points over six months from October 2007 in London and elsewhere in the UK. Coulomb Technologieswas aiming to deploy its ChargePoint charging station network throughout the USA. In March 2009, Tesla Motors announced a partnership to deploy battery swap stations among their existing Supercharger network to service their Model S platform cars.Tesla abandoned battery swapping citing low demand. The Nation-E's Angel Car system is a portable unit, containing a lithium-ion battery, that stores energy and is used as an emergency charger for electric cars that run out of power. It designed to be a solution to "range anxiety" without the deployment of significant new infrastructure, and pr...
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May 26, 2013 · In 2008, Better Place partnered with Renault to build an electric car and create a system of battery swapping stations, but the concept never gained momentum. Dan Farber May 26, 2013 7:43 a.m. PT
Oct 19, 2020 · In fact, Tesla is the most valuable car company in the United States, and, as of mid-October 2020, is worth more than Ford and General Motors combined. However, EVs still make up a small market share of new passenger vehicles.
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Feb 08, 2010 · Feb. 8, 2010 7:20 a.m. PT. 0. Electric-car services company Better Place has announced deals in Israel with corporate fleet operators and a gas station company, steps toward launching a nationwide ...
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