Israel Launches First Nationwide Network of Electric Battery Stations
Drivers can swap spent batteries for fully charged ones; Denmark, Amsterdam, Australia are next in line.
Instead of fretting over the limited range of their electric vehicles, drivers in Israel can now exchange their depleted batteries for charged ones at the first nationwide network of EV battery stations in the world. The swap takes about five minutes, as opposed to the six to eight hours required to charge a battery.
The stations, called Better Place, are meant to assuage drivers' fears about running out of juice; an EV's range is typically 100 miles. This is something experts have identified as an impediment to more widespread EV use. "Consumers may simply decide that electric cars don't offer the range they need," automotive expert John McElroy told Fox News.
Better Place is the brainchild of Israeli businessman Shai Agassi, who has raised $750 million for the venture, including from the likes of General Electric. Agassi has launched four stations in Israel, and plans to add 40 more by the end of the year. Israel was chosen for its tech-savvy culture and because much of its population is concentrated in one area, along the Mediterranean, so many of its drivers will have access to the network.
The Better Place technology notifies drivers when they need to swap out their batteries and tells them where the closest battery station is located. Since the company owns the batteries, the sticker price of EVs participating in the program is lower. Also boosting affordability is the fact that Renault has designed a sedan, the Fluence, that's customized for the stations and sells for roughly as much as gasoline-fueled sedans in Israel.
The plan is for Israel to be the proving ground, and then Better Place is expected to follow with networks in Denmark, Amsterdam and Australia later this year. By bringing down the purchase price of EVs and eliminating drivers' range-related phobias -- among the two biggest impediments to EV success -- Better Place just might make headway in spreading the EV gospel.
Agassi's ambitions are certainly high, according to reporting by Fox News: "Agassi sees the 'tipping point' for electric cars coming in two to three years, propelled by dropping prices of cars and batteries. By 2017, he expects 50 percent of all new car sales in Israel to be electric."
[Source: Fox News.]
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