Things have been a little quiet around Better Place and their battery switching solution. Everybody is waiting for their Denmark and Israel projects to finally take off. The promised land of EVs of course is China: A huge population, a large untapped car market, and a government that gets nervous when thinking about long and perilous supply lines of foreign oil. The Chinese government demands EVs from its automakers, and just about each had a prototype or more at the Shanghai Auto Show that had a plug and a cord. Just don’t ask when you can buy one.
Better Place now announced a strategic agreement with China Southern Power Grid Co. (CSG), the world’s eighth largest utility company. First step is to establish a battery switch station and joint education center in the southern city of Guangzhou before the end of the year, while a joint-venture partnership is being formalized. The Guangzhou city government will encourage local car manufacturers, such as Guangzhou Automobile Industry Group, to produce electric cars with switchable batteries.
China Southern Grid Chairman Zhao Jianguo believes that “the battery-switch model may become mainstream in China.”
At the “2011 International Forum on Electric Vehicle Pilot City an Industry Development” in Shanghai, an executive of a Shenzhen battery maker warned about fast charging. It should only by used in emergency situations, because it might kill the battery. Also, fast charging puts high demands on the grid. Better Place sees a trend towards battery switching and slow charging that is spearheaded by utility companies and the Chinese government, says Better Place spokesman John Proctor. At the conference, State Grid said they would build over 2,300 switching sites by 2015.
With the Better Place business model, you lease the battery and subscribe to a number of annual miles, just like in a cell phone plan.