By on May 15, 2013


Beleaguered EV start-up Better Place faced yet another blow this week, as Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn declared that rapid-charging, not swappable batteries, will be the predominant charging technology for EVs.

Israeli business outlet Globequotes Ghosn as saying

“When you look at the overall trends, we must conclude that replaceable batteries are no longer the main track for electric vehicles…The main trail is flat batteries in cars with charging. We believe that people want flexibility in the technology, and we can see that the demand is for rechargeable standard batteries.”

Ghosn stopped short of completely writing off Better Place and their battery-swap technology, but Ghosn made it clear that the focus would be elsewhere. Commercial fleets were one area where Ghosn identified potential demand for swappable batteries, due to a lack of downtime with charging the vehicles.

“There may be cases where people prefer replaceable batteries – as we have tried to include Israel and Denmark. Here we will continue to offer the Fluence with replaceable batteries. There may also be large companies, where they have a huge fleet of cars, and do not want to wait for charging. But it will not be the majority of the market, and going forward, our focus is on the charging technology, among other things look at our new Nissan Leaf.”

Increasingly efficient rapid-charging technology and a lack of demand for EVs has led to a downward spiral for Better Place’s fortunes. The company recently shuttered their American and Australian operations and gave founder Shai Agassi the boot.


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10 Comments on “Ghosn Deals A Blow To Better Place...”

  • avatar

    “Increasingly efficient rapid-charging technology and a lack of demand for EVs has led to a downward spiral for Better Place’s fortunes.”

    I wouldn’t say either part of that statement is accurate.

    1. Rapid charging is the key to EV mainstream success, but we’re not really making progress on that front.
    2. EV sales are increasing, but few/none of the vehicles sold is mechanically compatible with Better Place’s architecture. Better Place missed the boat about 10-15 years ago when mfrs were figuring out how to design their EVs around the battery.

  • avatar

    I think this website needs to be renamed “The Truth About Carlos Ghosn”.

    If possible, could all the posts tomorrow have Ghosn in the title or at least the body?

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    The nearly terminal speaking to the dead.

    In a vacuum, Better Place’s concept is better. One could swap out an interchangeable battery in the same time it takes to fill a 20 gallon gasoline tank. The problem is that everyone has to agree on both the physical and electrical specifications for the battery.

    The metaphor of a battery as the equivalent of a gas tank carries with it some incorrect, and dangerous assumptions. Charging rate and discharging rate are major factors in battery longevity. “Quick charges” of lead-acid batteries certainly have a negative effect on longevity. I’m sure that’s also true of more exotic batteries. So, blasting 20 or more kw/h into your EV’s battery because you’re impatient to get going is going to come at a price you’ll pay later.

    • 0 avatar

      Quite correct. Filling a battery isn’t just a matter of using a bigger pipe to do so.

    • 0 avatar

      Better Place’s model also sets performance standards for the battery over its life. This model works well for two reasons:

      1. You amortize the cost of the battery over the life of the vehicle via your “fill-ups”. Battery cost is a significant cost in EVs and this model helps mitigate that up-front cost.

      2. Fixed “fill-up” time with predictable battery performance over time.

      I see the future as a hybrid of both on-board charging and battery swap stations. This allows for maximum flexibility and convenience.

  • avatar
    Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

    I think an infrastructure around Phinergy-style Al-air consumable batteries makes more sense, assuming they can deliver adequate power. ISTR Tesla filing a recent patent for a range-extender system utilizing that. According to this link, $50 for the Al (and I would bet an additional $20-30 for the packaging and labor involved in changing it out) will get ~1000 miles of range:

    Plus, the aluminum oxide solution could be dumped out and recycled back into aluminum.

  • avatar

    Thank you for not posting a pic of Carlos Ghosn. Besides, Bertel used up that quota last week.

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