Over the weekend, we heard a story that the Obama Administration "may be adopting" the Better Place model of powering electric cars. We wanted to know more about what this means, exactly, and got the following from Better Place PR:

Better Place has shared their model with a number of government and industry leaders around the world in the past two years and believe that their model is applicable to the entire US under the right economic conditions. They're hopeful that California and Hawaii will serve as an important blueprint for how the model could work across the entire country
.

So, not a lot of confirmation of anything there. But we also had a bit of a backlog of questions we wanted to ask Better place, so we took the opportunity to try and get answers to those as well. Click past the jump to learn about how universal the Better Place chargers are, if you can charge your Better Place car at home and more.


[Source: Better Place]


ABG: The "agreements" that we hear about Better Place making with places like Australia and Hawaii, are they MOUs or signed deals? Can I get a list of each location where Better Place has publicly said they will be (or hope to be) operating in and information on whether each is an official, signed deal or an MOU?

BP: Better Place is in discussions with more than 25 countries, plus many major automakers and local partners. Better Place will not disclose specific plans until our partners are prepared to do so. Currently, Better Place has agreements in place in Israel, Denmark, Australia, California, Hawaii, and was the only foreign company invited to participate in a electric car trial in Japan, with Honda, Subaru and Mitsubishi.

ABG: I'd also like a little more clarification on what a Better Place customer can do with their car. If he or she wants to charge their Better Place/Renault/Nissan vehicle at home, either because they have solar panels, say, or want to take advantage of cheaper nighttime rates, will this be possible?

BP: Charge spots will be installed at homes, places of work and most retail locations. Better Place will provide safety and energy management services for all charge spots. Wherever we can, Better Place will partner with local electric utilities, such as Hawaiian Electric Companies, to utilize renewable energy sources, including solar, to power the Better Place network.

ABG: You say that a non-Better Place customer can get power from a Better Place charging station using "an easily-installed converter"? What is this converter? How much will it cost? Will Better Place not be using the J1772 interface standard in their charging stations

BP: Better Place is working with the broader community to develop industry standards that can be applied to all EVs around the world. We are building an open-standards based network, so any EV driver to connect with our charge spot.

ABG: In the cars, how are the battery-to-vehicle connectors designed? How many swap outs does Better Place estimate they will be able to handle before needing replacement? Is the automated swap-out process designed to completely eliminate the chance that a person could come be arced or in any way injured?

BP: The battery switch stations are designed to for convenience and safety. Drivers should only have to use the battery switch stations in the event that they drive beyond 100 miles, failing that they should be able to effectively 'top off' their vehicle whenever it's parked. The idea is that you swap your battery less than you would fill up your tank with gas.

The swapping stations will be completely automated and will not require human interaction with the battery or machinery thus eliminating the risk of injury.

ABG: At what price difference between gasoline and electricity does the Better Place model no longer work?

BP: According to Deloitte, a pure electric vehicle model, such as Better Place's, should not be more expensive than a gasoline/diesel vehicle. And in most countries, operating costs could be much lower. Including electricity and depreciation on the battery, the cost of a mile should be no more than $0.07. This compares with $0.24 per mile for $6.00/gal gasoline in Europe and $0.15-$0.20 for $3.00-$4.00 gasoline in the United States.

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