By on April 27, 2011

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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7 Comments on “Better Place Signs Contract In China...”

  • avatar

    I feel like my idea has been ripped off. I was saying for a long time that charging via cord was a stupid idea and it wouldn’t work well in many places – and that the best way to make EV’s would be a standardized battery that could be swapped like a Propane tank. I seriously thought I came up with that.

  • avatar

    @bigtruck. I think I posted about this concept on the internet 10 plus years ago. I think somebody swiped my idea.
    I was also watching some documentary on PBS a while ago about the future of energy and some guy in the 1960s came up with a similar concept then, so I guess this has been around a while now.

    • 0 avatar

      It makes sense. The battery is the weakest link in the whole thing. 
      Too bad there’s no way to fully charge a car off solar power in a reasonable amount of time. But, I still think that Volt’s should have optional solar panel double-pane sunroofs so you can trickle charge the battery if you live in sunny places.  It’s funny that everyone who hears my idea scoffs at them, BUT, Nissan’s P.O.S Leaf has a solar spoiler to do the exact same thing.

      • 0 avatar

        My understanding of batteries is that “trickle charging” them is potentially damaging as it can’t properly return the sulphates back into solution. Proper chargers pump high amperage through during the 1st Phase then slow down to a trickle only in the top-off phase. Besides, it takes days to trickle charge a near-dead battery so it wouldn’t be much benefit really.

    • 0 avatar

      I bet you can find the battery swap idea in the 1890’s, and an implementation in the 1910’s

  • avatar

    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.

  • avatar

    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.”

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