Project Better Place

Better Place

Better Place is a California-based, venture-backed company that aims to reduce global dependency on petroleum through the creation of a market-based transportation infrastructure that supports electric vehicles, providing consumers with a cleaner, sustainable, personal transportation alternative.

Better Place will build its first Electric Recharge Grids in Israel and Denmark, where the electricity will be generated by solar power and wind power, respectively. Both governments have enacted policies, which create a tax differential between zero-emission vehicles and traditional cars, to accelerate the transition to electric cars. Better Place plans to deploy the infrastructure on a country-by-country basis with initial deployments beginning in 2010. The company has said it is in talks with more than 25 additional countries around the world.

Launch

The company was publicly launched, as Project Better Place, by Shai Agassi on October 29, 2007. It has already raised $200 million.

In January 2008, Better Place announced a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Renault-Nissan to build the world's first Electric Recharge Grid Operator (ERGO) model for clean transportation in Israel. Under the agreement, Better Place will build the electric recharge grid, and Renault-Nissan will provide the electric vehicles. In 2009, Better Place expects to deploy hundreds of charging stations as the company moves toward wide-scale deployment in 2011.

Investors

It has raised funding from various sources including, VantagePoint Venture Partners, Israel Corporation, Israel Cleantech Ventures, Morgan Stanley, Acorns to Oaks II, Esarbee Investments Canada, GC Investments LLC, Musea Ventures, Ofer Group, Vyikra Partners, Wolfensohn & Co. and Maniv Energy Capital.

Partners

In May 2008, the company presented a prototype of its electric car at a press conference in Tel Aviv. Shai Agassi estimated that the company's partner, the Renault-Nissan alliance, would likely invest $500 million to $1 billion in developing the swappable-battery electric cars.

Mercedes-Benz has said it is in talks with Better Place about the potential for cooperation. The company is also reportedly engaged in discussions about creating electric recharge grids in the State of Hawaii and the city of San Francisco.

Better Place picked Massad Oz Management & Supervision Ltd. to manage the pilot recharging infrastructure deployment for the company's electric car venture. Massad Oz will set up the recharging infrastructure in Tel Aviv parking lots after the 2008 summer.

Response

In March 2008, Deutsche Bank analysts reportedly concluded that the company's approach could be a "paradigm shift" that causes "massive disruption" to the auto industry, and which has "the potential to eliminate the gasoline engine altogether. Three months later, the same institution issued a second report, finding “electric vehicles destined for much more growth than is widely perceived”. The same report states that “[i]mprovements in battery technology will allow for increased power, increased electrical propulsion, and bigger gains in fuel economy.”

On June 26, 2008, Shai Agassi testified before the United States House of Representatives Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, chaired by Representative Ed Markey of Massachusetts. The hearing, titled “$4 Gasoline and Fuel Economy: Auto Industry at a Crossroads,” dealt with the future role of the auto industry and the federal government in fighting gas prices and the fuel economy standards proposed in response to the enactment of the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007.

Similar projects

In France, Électricité de France (EDF) and Toyota are installing recharging points for PHEVs on roads, streets and parking lots. EDF is also partnering with Elektromotive, Ltd. to install 250 new charging points over six months from October 2007 in London and elsewhere in the UK. Recharging points also can be installed for specific uses, as in taxi stands.

See also

References

External links

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