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A Better Place For Earth

One Man’s Mission To Wean The World Off Oil


WKRG.com News

3721421288_9b3efc09e7One of the 100 most influential people of 2009 by Time magazine is a 42 year old Israeli businessman, Shai Agassi. Whom happens to be developing a global network of charging spots and “battery switch stations,” which will effectively work as gas stations for electric cars. He is a man on a mission to wean the world off it’s oil addiction and turn everyone into electric car drivers. With his California-based company, Better Place, Agassi has partnered with car maker Renault-Nissan to produce the first generation of emission-free electric cars, the Renault Fluence ZE design delivers comfort, styling and flexibility. The world’s first switchable battery electric car will be available in early 2011, which Agassi says “will not be more expensive than your average Sedan.”

The complete Better Place solution integrates charging ports, smart vehicle software, operations centers, electric vehicles, lithium-ion batteries, and battery switch stations, all managed as an intelligent network. By year-end, the company will undertake the next major global milestone with full scale testing of all components within its solution in Israel as the company continues to gear up for commercial launch in Israel and Denmark in late 2011, followed by larger scale network roll outs in Australia, Denmark, Hawaii, Ontario and California.

Agassi believes these stations will be key in changing the public perception of electric cars as being “a hassle” and “to make the electric car more affordable than its gasoline counterpart.” By 2015, electric miles will only cost four cents (U.S.) per mile, far cheaper than the price of gasoline.”

To ensure a low cost per mile, Better Place says it has introduced a subscription model that will include a “mileage plan,” similar to a cell phone plan.

With the plan, drivers buy the car and then sign up for a separate mileage plan that will give them access to the batteries, the network of battery switch stations and the charge spots.

The battery is a critical element of the Electric Vehicle (EV), and how it is managed and charged is crucial to its optimization. For heavy use vehicles such as electric taxis, the need for repeated rapid (5 minute fast) charging will degrade the lifespan and performance of the battery. Battery switch delivers an “instant charge” – a fully charged battery in less time than it takes to fill a gas tank or recharge via other charging methods. The duration, durability and robustness of the battery switch process and battery resistance to degradation will all be demonstrated under actual operating conditions with vehicles that operate nearly continuously and thus drive much more than average passenger vehicles.

On April 26, Better Place unveiled the first electric taxis with switchable batteries in Tokyo, an area with more taxis than London, Paris, and New York combined, with approximately 60,000 vehicles.

For the 90 day Tokyo electric taxi project, Better Place and Nihon Kotsu, Tokyo’s largest taxi operator, are operating three switchable-battery electric taxis available to the public at the taxi line reserved for environmentally-friendly vehicles on the first floor of the Roppongi Hills Complex, (a complex in central Tokyo consisting of a shopping center, the Tokyo Grand Hyatt Hotel, the Mori Office tower and the Roppongi Hills Arena). Kiyotaka Fujii, President of Better Place Japan, said “Since our initial announcement of this project, we’ve heard from cities around the world interested in converting their taxi fleets as a concrete way to fight CO2 emissions and urban pollution. Electric taxis are a pragmatic step forward for governments as well as a lucrative segment in the electrification of transport.”

3947614289_a5ed0c0ddcBetter Place worked on the design, engineering and conversion of the gasoline powered, crossover utility vehicles turning them into electric taxis with switchable batteries. The batteries for these cars are provided by A123 Systems. Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry commissioned Better Place to conduct the Tokyo project as a result of the company’s successful demonstration in Yokohama last year.

At an estimated cost of $500,000 to build, the station has a robot that slips under the electric car and replaces the flat battery for a fully charged one, clicking it in and out of place in minutes.

The Better Place electric vehicle network could very well fit the needs of firms with large fleets for car rental, mobile sales forces, field services and package delivery that are seeking to reduce fleet emissions.

For the switching station technology to transfer to the mass market, there’s has to be a ‘standard’ agreed apon by the evolving EV industry. Until then, non-conforming EV batteries can be recharged at one of Better Place’s developing global infrastructure of charging spots. The company is planning to install hundreds of thousands of charge spots at workplaces, public parking lots and along urban streets, in addition to at-home charge spots worldwide. Their charge spots not only will provide charging services to Better Place subscribers, but also will enable drivers of almost any plug-in vehicle to charge.

……. as the green future unfolds

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10 Responses to “A Better Place For Earth”

  1. Jen Says:

    This will be interesting to watch. I would buy a hybrid car and replace my SUV if it were affordable and sadly it isn’t. I realize that I pay a lot more for gas but I don’t drive that much and my truck is paid for which means my insurance is very low. If I were to buy a new hybrid it would be a large payment each month and my insurance and tabs would increase considerably.
    .-= Jen´s last blog ..Knock It Off- =-.

  2. Linda Says:

    Hi Jen … you do have a point. but maybe just maybe the cost of the car will be much less than the current ones. However, I would run the car into the ground before getting a new one since you have it paid off. Gotta enjoy some time without a note! 😀

  3. Lissof Says:

    Thanks for sharing this Linda,

    I am really excited about this next couple of years. We are finally starting to see some action in construction of the infrastructure necessary to provide Renewable Energy powered transportation.

    The choice of Taxis was excellent in that it will be high use vehicles that will expose many potential future owners to positive aspects of clean green electric transportation.

    Now as long as Green Energy is used to provide charging for the batteries, a major step forward will be accomplished.

    With positive demonstration of taxis, I could see major cities utilizing this battery change out technology for inner city delivery (postal, UPS, DHL…), public transportation, governmental and utilities vehicles, even the Roach Coach Taco Wagon I lunch at..

    It is good to hear of action being implemented, rather than hearing of Politicians sitting on the beach sipping Mojitos with their Big Energy Lobbyist buddies while contemplating that Texas Tar Ball stuck to the big toe of their left foot.

  4. Linda Says:

    HI LIssof … LOL! you have great sight to the future!

  5. injaynesworld Says:

    My concern about these vehicles would be from a crashworthiness perspective. I would think they would have to be a lighter weight vehicle. I’ve driven Volvo’s for 25 years for their steel cage construction and safety. It will be interesting to see how these new vehicles are developed in that way and what the crash statistics are after they’re on the road for a while. I’m rooting for them!
    .-= injaynesworld´s last blog ..injaynesworld What Are The Odds =-.

  6. Linda Says:

    Hi Jayne … You know, you have a point! However, with all of the mini coopers or vw bug, we are still rollin! So, what we need is for volvo to drop in a battery into their steel cage and bingo! we have the best of both worlds! 😀

  7. Shaz Says:

    Truly a better place for earth…yay!

  8. Linda Says:

    Hi Shaz ….. Yes it is!

  9. Quiet-Environmentalist Says:

    Electric cars are only Green when they are driven by renewable energy. This is not going to become reality until at least 2050. Also the manufacturing of a new Hybrid is a lot more carbon intensive than the CO2 that it saves. We need to work on reducing our use of the car and also move towards more efficient and SMALLER cars.
    .-= Quiet-Environmentalist´s last blog ..Flat Pack Society =-.

  10. Linda Says:

    Hi Quiet-Environmentalist … I agree but we have to start somewhere and why not Electric Cars. Once we get used to the idea, the rest will follow.

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