Though it doesn’t get the play it deserves in the auto media, Project Better Place is one of the most ambitious, potentially disruptive plays anywhere in the world of cars, uniquely positioning itself to eliminate the biggest shortcomings of electric vehicles. TTAC was on hand when the “end-to-end” EV services firm opened its first battery swap station in Israel, and now the firm has launched its first European swap station in Denmark. Better Place’s single model, the Renault Fluence Z.E won’t be widely available in either of the two initial launch markets until later this year, but having sold over 70,000 of its initial order of 100k units from Renault, Better Place is keeping its foot on the gas… er, juice.
Earlier this year, BP signed a deal with GM’s Australian division Holden and several suppliers, to develop large, rear-drive sedans based on the (Zeta Platform) Commodore. At the time, we noted
This project is highly significant on a number of levels. First, battery-swap-enabled large sedans operating in Australia could show the way forward for the US, by breaking stereotypes about EV size, capability and operating environments. Second, the project marks the first sign of flirtation between General Motors and Project Better Place’s battery-swap-based business.
And that initial challenge, proving that BP’s battery-swap infrastructure can provide “unlimited range” EV motoring at relatively low costs (thanks to its unique battery-leasing arrangement) outside of tiny, densely-populated markets like Israel and Denmark, is one that the firm is eager to conquer. And so BP is building on pilot testing in Canberra, Australia, by announcing that the first Fluence Z.Es will begin arriving Australia in the middle of next year. Cars will first arrive in Canberra, and Australia-wide sales will follow, and according to the firm’s press release
By 2013 Better Place will give Australia the largest electric car charge network in the world, which is expected to outpace current deployment plans in market-leading countries including the US and China.
If Better Place can build momentum and create a viable market for its EV scheme in Australia, there’s no reason it can’t do so in the US. Keep an eye on these guys…