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Better Place is headquartered in Israel and the battery-swapping EV enterprise has been held up as an example of that nation's high-tech capabilities. So, seeing the company take a beating in an Israeli newspaper may seem surprising. But that's just what journalist Dan Rabinowitz did in Haaretz:

Better Place's electric car network was supposed to bring us glad tidings of an innovative high technology that would preserve the atmosphere and the environment, redeem us from our dependence on oil and, above all, save us money.

But it is very doubtful that the electric car will indeed reduce emissions of greenhouse gases in Israel. And now that the full costs and the technical specifications have been revealed, there are equally serious questions about how much consumers will save.

According to Rabinowitz, the economics of Better Place don't work out for Israeli consumers or for Israeli tax payers. Instead, he calls the company's plans a "gimmick" whose only real value as a company is what it generates from the "monopoly it received from the state on building and operating charging stations." Ouch. It the company really more intent on scamming shekels from Israeli EV owners than it is on swapping batteries? At least one person seems to think so. Do you?

[Source: Haaretz]



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  • 23 Comments
      sola
      • 3 Years Ago
      I find the Better Place model brilliant but I also find their prices and plans very expensive.
      Michael Walsh
      • 3 Years Ago
      Pah! Their conservatives are as bad as our conservatives!
      uncle_sam
      • 3 Years Ago
      Rabinowitz should think about who he is paying by operating a petrol car.
        Marco Polo
        • 3 Years Ago
        @uncle_sam
        The article quotes Rabinowitz out of context. Rabinowitz is not opposing EV's, only the uneconomic granting a monopoly to Better Place.
      electronx16
      • 3 Years Ago
      It's always been clear that owning everybody's car batteries puts this company in a very special, but not necessarily better place.
      j
      • 3 Years Ago
      Though it's true, I'd like to pay less than BP rates, most folks will start with a full charge at home each morning and c'mon, they're talking about 4 charging stations nationwide to start with. So if they are charging less $ than most would pay for gas anyway, most folks are better off. National security concerns are addressed, and the last objection to electric cars is bridged. Perfect? Well what is ever perfect? "Better Place is headquartered in Israel and the battery-swapping EV enterprise has been held up as an example of that nation's high-tech capabilities." Why is it that every other writer claims B.Place is HQ'd in California?
        letstakeawalk
        • 3 Years Ago
        @j
        Because Better Place says so. "Founded in 2007, Better Place is a privately-held company based in Palo Alto, California, with subsidiaries around the world." http://www.betterplace.com/the-company-contact
      Doug
      • 3 Years Ago
      I think Better Place is just unnecessary in general. They are a middle man that can only increase the costs for consumers. In a small nation like Israel, you don't really need battery swaps. Let whatever 3rd parties set up charging stations. Let consumers lease batteries or the entire car from automakers/dealers directly if they choose to go that route. I don't see what value Better Place adds.
      JP
      • 3 Years Ago
      I've been trying to expose the BP scam for a while now. http://ephase.blogspot.com/2010/12/project-better-place-exposed.html http://ephase.blogspot.com/2011/03/better-place-fairy-tale-crumbles.html http://ephase.blogspot.com/2011/06/goshen-on-project-better-place-not-for.html http://ephase.blogspot.com/2011/07/truth-about-better-place.html
        Spec
        • 3 Years Ago
        @JP
        It is not a scam . . . just an over-optimistic business plan that is meeting reality. I like the battery swapping ability but I don't like the 'cell phone' business model. Especially when the cars are darn expensive up front.
        Marco Polo
        • 3 Years Ago
        @JP
        Keep up the good work! From the beginning, I thought that Shai Aggassi's better Place was not a scam, but simply people dedicated to a doomed, uneconomic, technology, and that they were honestly deluding themselves that the Better Place product was beneficial. However, in light of the latest campaign of lies and disinformation from Better Place and it's dwindling band of supporters, I am forced to agree that Better Place is revealed as a scam! I had hoped that Better Place would be honest, and abandon the battery swapping concept to concentrate of a fast charging post network. But in fact, Better Place has maintained the fiction of publicly announcing the imminent construction of battery swapping stations, while only delivering a few outsourced, and inferior. charging posts. In the meantime vast amounts of investor, (and taxpayer )money has disappeared into an increasingly complex web of corporate entities, based in exotic, and difficult to trace, locations.
        Marco Polo
        • 3 Years Ago
        @JP
        @Spec. Unlike some, I don't use the term scam, recklessly. I am not emphatic about the level of delusion, as opposed to dishonesty. In all probability Better Place started out a well intentioned, if ill-conceived concept. I have followed the progress of Better Place for some years and have been amazed at how the project has developed into a sort of 'faith' based project rather than a real business. Like many, I thought that when the battery swapping nonsense proved economically impractical, the company would just switch to selling technically super-advanced, charging post's, (especially to business networks). Not so, once you cut through all the hyperbole Better Place products are still pretty vague and ill-defined. What leads me to believe that Better Place is developing scam type characteristics, is the lack of transparency, and complexity of corporate financial arrangements, coupled with a lot of false and misleading statements about viability and progress. Time will tell, but I would certainly not be advising anyone to invest!
      j
      • 3 Years Ago
      Dan Rabinowitz - "But it is very doubtful that the electric car will indeed reduce emissions of greenhouse gases in Israel." Once he makes this claim, If you know anything about electric cars, it is difficult to believe the other things he says without applying quite a bit of scrutiny.
      Ziv
      • 3 Years Ago
      Sounds like the usual sniping sort of attack. Better Place is pretty well suited to a smaller nation like Israel. I doubt most Israeli have 40 mile commutes. Probably closer to 15-25 miles which makes a BEV a pretty good option for most drivers. What I am curious to see is the fallout from the Leviathan Gas Field discovery. It sounds like Israel has found the 25th or so largest gas field in the world about 80 miles west of Haifa. If they have enough gas to fuel their electricity generation plants and still have enough to export, for something like 80 years, it will have a huge impact on the way Israel develops BEVs. And Lebanon dropped their claim that it was in Lebanese waters so it looks to be pretty smooth sailing in the development area.
        Ryan
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Ziv
        They dropped their claims until the rigs are in place probably. I would imagine the security will be pretty extreme...
        Marco Polo
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Ziv
        @Ziv. Better Place would be a suited to a country like Israel if: 1) Battery technology never advanced passed 1995. 2) The charging post had never been invented, 3) the range of EV vehicles stayed at around 25 miles,and could never improve. Israel is a small nation of only 290 miles (470 km.) in length and 85 miles (135 km.) at its widest point, (About the size of New Jersey). Unlike in Europe, Israeli's try to avoid driving into neighbouring countries ( in private cars). Since the average Israeli drives less than 23 miles per day, and most EV's are being sold with ranges in excess of 100 miles, (160+ km), Better Place would seem to be a very unsuited and expensive method of extending the range of an EV. The huge capital cost of installation and operation of the Battery Swapping Station could never be recovered economically, for the small number of drivers who may use the facility.
        JP
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Ziv
        BP is completely unnecessary, especially in a small nation such as Israel, where a LEAF can cover most trips on a single charge, and a few fast charge stations would allow travel from end to end.
        skierpage
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Ziv
        What everyone else said. BP can cover a small country like Denmark or Israel with swap stations, but in a small country stopping every 100 miles for 30 minutes to get a DC fast charge isn't so bad. Now that electric cars are out there and doing OK, BP's gee-whiz "We're selling battery miles like cellphone minutes" pitch is just "huh?". BP have to execute and price so their greater cost is worth the benefit for a subset of EV owners who drive long distances and/or who don't have convenient nearby recharging. It'll be great if the EV market is so huge that this subset can support the expense of a BP rollout. Does BP really have a state monopoly on charging stations? How will they stop citizens and businesses from installing them? Maybe Nissan will cede the Israel market to its sister Renault, but someone else will sell EVs there eventually.
          Marco Polo
          • 3 Years Ago
          @skierpage
          The Israel Electric Corporation Limited, is the sole provider of electricity in Israel. Being government owned it has the authority to refuse power supply to anyone at it's own discretion. (It frequently uses this against Arabs wishing to remain in their homes in "new settlements''. In this way the homes can be said to be violating occupancy codes and 'not fit for habitation' allowing demolition orders.) The IEC could simply grant Better Place a monopoly on EV charging conditions, and disallow any vehicle to be registered that failed to comply. Better Place has already intimated that existing electric vehicles, forklifts, tugs etc, "Will welcome being included in the Better Place matrix"! . Two members of the Israeli Parliament have called for an Inquiry into the affairs of Better Place. Enquiries with IEC, are refused on the grounds that "matters relating to power supply are subject to National Security".
      • 3 Years Ago
      While Better Place is a technically wonderful idea, the system design must necessarily increase the true cost of EVs which ultimately be passed on to the consumer or tax payer. The charging stations, the swapping stations, the spare batteries, the more complex removable battery design, the overhead of Better Place, and more must all be paid for by someone and are expenses that don't exist in the model of EV sales used in the USA. Having said that, perhaps the added expense is worth paying for. I would love to be able to swap out my battery for a longer trip, but I just don't want to have to pay a monopoly for the privilege. One possible bright side of Better Place is a standard battery pack design. If multiple manufacturers competed to sell these packs, that could drive down prices in a way that might not be possible with the custom battery pack design model.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Better Place is in a real race against time. By the time they are well deployed (3-5 years), there is a good chance battery technology (range and charge time) and cost will be at levels that will render their services obsolete.
      letstakeawalk
      • 3 Years Ago
      Has Better Place signed any contracts to acquire the stock of batteries that they'll be needing?
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