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Posts Tagged ‘electric car charging network’

switch station location

photo: Better Place

In today’s New York Times, I write about Better Place’s unveiling of its software platform for managing tens of thousands of electric cars on the road and the grid. Software as much as hardware will be key to making electric cars a mass market phenomenon:

Electric cars may be all about hardware – batteries, drivetrains, charging stations — but companies like Better Place are depending on software to give a niche product mass-market appeal.

At the Frankfurt Motor Show on Tuesday, Better Place, which builds electric vehicle charging networks, is expected to take the wraps off a software platform that tells drivers when and where to charge their batteries, while giving utilities the ability to manage the impact of tens of thousands of vehicles tapping into the power grid.

The company, based in Palo Alto, Calif., has signed deals to roll out networks of charging spots and battery switching stations in Australia, Denmark, California, Canada and Hawaii and Israel.

Better Place will own the car batteries and drivers will buy “miles” (or kilometers) on a subscription plan much like they purchase mobile phone minutes. That means Better Place must track the location and capacity of thousands of batteries at any given moment to properly bill customers and ensure that fresh batteries and charging posts are available when needed.

You can read the rest of the story here.

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20081117_5075_betterplace

photo: Better Place

Silicon Valley startup Better Place on Tuesday announced a deal with Hawaii’s governor and the state’s biggest utility to build an electric car charging network throughout the islands.

The agreement comes less than two weeks after Better Place CEO Shai Agassi and the mayors of Northern California’s three largest cities unveiled a plan to build an electric car infrastructure for the San Francisco Bay Area. Better Place also has signed similar deals with governments in Australia, Denmark and Israel.

Agassi said the network of charging posts and battery swapping stations will be ready by 2012. That’s roughly the target date for Better Place’s other projects, which means the year-old startup will be simultaneously building electric car networks in four countries while raising billions of dollars in project finance.

Renault-Nissan will supply electric cars for the network. Better Place will own the car batteries and charge drivers for the miles (or kilometers) driven. By removing the battery from the purchase price of electric cars – the most expensive component – Better Place hopes to sell vehicles at prices competitive with their fossil-fueled counterparts.

Appearing with Agassi at a press conference at the capitol in Honolulu, Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle said the Better Place partnership offers the state the opportunity to slash the $7 billion it spends annually on imported oil and provide a market for renewable energy. Hawaiians pay some of the highest gasoline prices in the U.S. and the state has set a goal of obtaining 70% of its energy from solar, wind and other renewable sources by 2030.

“It’s not a simple goal – we’re looking to end our dependence on oil,” said Agassi, who shed his customary dark suit for a gray polo shirt and wore a lei. “Any form of renewable energy – wind, solar, geothermal – is here in Hawaii.”

“This will be the blueprint where six or seven million visitors will come and experience first-hand what it’s like to drive an electric car,” added Agassi, 40, a former top executive at business software giant SAP. “You couldn’t ask for a better advertisement.”

Utility Hawaiian Electric (HE), which supplies 95% of the state’s power, will generate renewable electricity equal to what the Better Place network consumes and work with the company on developing the charging infrastructure.

“The price of oil is irrelevant to us – we have to reach a clean and secure energy future,” Lingle said.

Better Place’s latest deal came on the same day that General Motors (GM) and Ford, which have asked for a multi billion-dollar bailout from Congress, (F) announced plans ramp up production of hybrid and electric cars.

“It’s a win-win-win – the only loser in the equation is oil and that’s ok,” said Hawaiian Electric executive vice president Robbie Alm. “Green cars will provide the market for renewable energy.”

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