Better Place Signs Contract In China

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

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.

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  • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on Apr 28, 2011

    I wonder how well this works when the undercarriage is packed with snow, dirt, and saltwater from the winter roads. This company's idea has been a topic here before, and it's fraught with problematic details that need to be worked out.

  • Skierpage Skierpage on Sep 24, 2011

    Since some BP fanboy or PR flack used your article as a Wikipedia citation, please note this correction: "State Grid plans to build 2,351 electric-charging and battery-swap stations with 220,000 charging poles". But they did NOT say how may would be battery-swap stations; instead the director of the State Grid smart grid research center commented "The construction of a large-scale charging station costs 20 to 30 million yuan ($3.05-4.57 million) and a small-scale one costs less than 10 million yuan, but it costs more than 100 million yuan to build a battery-swap station."

  • Tassos those 90s pathetic orange pixels are inexcusably lame in a 2010.The interior is filled with Grey Rubbermaid plastic and the tiny sliver of real or fake wood is an utterly pathetic attempt to pretend it's upscale (don't even THINK of "Luxury")Merc SLs with similar metal retractable roofs look so much better inside and out.Regardless of what you paid for this way undepowered near-luxury pretend-sports car, you would have done so much better with a PORSCHE BOXSTER...
  • Dukeisduke That's a cool picture (the one under the bridge) - where was it taken? Google Image Search doesn't turn up any matches.
  • Dukeisduke Okay, yeah, they should fix this, but, "URGENT: DO NOT DRIVE THIS VEHICLE"? I think we're reaching Peak Idiocracy.
  • Lou_BC This offer reminds me of those plans where you get something free but if you fail to cancel prior to the expiry of the "Free" plan you end up on the hook for a lengthy contract. Tesla wants to attract people to their electrical company. It's smart. Make money selling the car, make money with subscription services on the car, and make money selling the fuel to power the car at home and at charging stations.
  • Kwik_Shift Fossil fuels making your electricity. Ironic.