Better Place, the Silicon Valley company founded by former high-tech executive and Israel native Shai Agassi in 2007, has delivered the first 100 electric cars to Israeli customers. After years of tests and trial programs, the deliveries mark a big step in the company's efforts to build out an electric-vehicle charging and battery-exchanging network throughout the country.

Better Place has delivered the Renault Fluence Z.E. EVs to Israel, Bloomberg News reported, citing an e-mail from Better Place Israel Chief Executive Officer Moshe Kaplinsky. The company will deliver more EVs to Israel and is planning on rolling out a similar network in Denmark. Better Place said last month that it would roll out the program with Eldan Group, Israel's largest rental car company, and would target private consumers and corporate fleets.

Better Place is looking to promote the concept – based on the cell phone model – that motorists should be able to lease batteries and battery charging time so that buying an electric vehicle does not require them to also purchase a battery pack that can cost as much as the car itself.

The company said late last year that it raised another $200 million in equity financing from companies such as General Electric and UBS AG and that it would use the funds to expand its electric-vehicle battery swapping network throughout Western Europe and other parts of the world. The funding brought the company's total to almost $800 million in equity financing and almost doubled the company's valuation to $2.25 billion since its previous round of equity funding in January 2010.


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  • 30 Comments
      pmpjunkie
      • 4 Months Ago
      How this makes sense in Israel and Denmark of all places is beyond me. There might be a need for a short time until batteries become more advanced, while consumers are reluctant to invest in a battery that may be outdated soon. A rollout of Teslas supercharger for example seems to be far more economical and easier than this scheme. Having experience with home charging I would loathe to have to go to any destination to get my juice, even if it only takes a minute to swap the batteries. Home charging is much faster than this, 4 second plug in time and four second plug out time and your done. If you think about how many inductive chargers you could install for the 2.25b they raised this becomes even more questionable.
        • 4 Months Ago
        @pmpjunkie
        battery that may be outdated soon.. With BPlace you don't own the battery. Car cheaper than petrol cars. Resale price of car retained. BPlace rolls out the latest batteries in the network giving more range. Teslas supercharger.. is slower.. 45 minutes, 2 cars cannot charge at the same time, if a car is charging already just wait.. 90 minutes. BPlace battery swap takes ~3 minutes. loathe to have to go to any destination to get my juice.. BPlace includes home charging station as part of the deal. how many inductive chargers you could install for the 2.25b.. Hundreds of thousands? that will bring down the entire US grid for sure if EV's plug in at the same time. BPlace entire EV charging network is computer controlled by BPlace so no effect on the grid. ff
          • 4 Months Ago
          pmpjunkie What you are doing is right. Unfortunately the great majority of drivers will never buy an EV if it costs more than a gasoline car They will buy an EV if it's cheaper and more convenient than a gasoline car That's why BPlace has 80,000 cars signed up in Israel/Denmark BPlace is interested in selling to the great majority of drivers not the few that are willing to make.. sacrifices to save money after 10-20 years but as BPlace sells more cars over the years and batteries get cheaper their monthly fee will go decrease.. ff
          • 4 Months Ago
          pmpjunkie: By the time the IPO rolls around we will have two years more of improvement in batteries and manufacturing cost.. It will take at least 10 years for those "miracle batteries" with a price of $1'000 for 300 miles to be sold to car makers and new EV's get them. the general public will never buy EV's that cost more than $16'000 only the rich environmentalists.  “Even in 2020, consumers will find this price of $8,000 to $10,000 to be a significant part of the vehicle’s overall cost. (so consumers will buy the usual cheap petrol car..) http://www.bcg.com/media/PressReleaseDetails.aspx?id=tcm:12-37343 in 10 years BPlace will be selling SUV's at $5'000 with a monthly subscription tha's at least half of the gasoline price at that time if not even less.. create an open standard for a smart grid that allows for the creation of a free energy market and lets me negotiate how fast I want to charge and how much I am willing to pay for the service. That's a bubble dream.. Reality is 100 mile battery costs $18'000 I prefer BPlace to pay for the battery not me and i pay BPlace a monthly fee about what i pay for gasoline today.. ff
          pmpjunkie
          • 4 Months Ago
          oh yeah great, I pay BP, the great savior, the same I pay in gasoline today (and i pay BPlace a monthly fee about what i pay for gasoline today) because I am too lazy or stupid to take initiative in my own life. To insult my intelligence lets pull some numbers out of the a%&$ ( “Even in 2020, consumers will find this price of $8,000 to $10,000 to be a significant part of the vehicle’s overall cost. (so consumers will buy the usual cheap petrol car..) and top it off with some disrespect for civic initiatives (create an open standard for a smart grid that allows for the creation of a free energy market and lets me negotiate how fast I want to charge and how much I am willing to pay for the service. That's a bubble dream.. ) I am totally sold, Thank You! I totally regret now installing that PV system on my roof and putting my hard earned cash into BYING an ev to have my transport and energy cost LOCKED DOWN for the next 20 years. I should have left that to BP and let them bilk me for most of the difference to the cost of fuel. I guess I must be a rich environmental type to start an Excel spread sheet and figure out how much cheaper that was over any other option out there.
          pmpjunkie
          • 4 Months Ago
          I am fully aware that you dont own the battery, and therefore I made the point that they may have a business for a few years. By the time the IPO rolls around we will have two years more of improvement in batteries and manufacturing cost. This will make their outlook questionable at best. BP just adds a lot of overhead to the cost of electric drive. Someone will have to pay for their capital cost, the swap stations, the home chargers, andministration and maintenance of their business infrastructure and a profit for the shareholder. Teslas supercharger takes 45 minutes to add about 240 miles of range to the battery. In small places like Denmark or Israel you can pretty much go across the whole country and back without ever needing a fast charge. All you really need is opportunity charging while you go about your life. I would not be too keen to add a middleman between my home charger and my car either, tends to just increase cost as well. Instead of signing up with BP to control the charging network it is much more beneficial to create an open standard for a smart grid that allows for the creation of a free energy market and lets me negotiate how fast I want to charge and how much I am willing to pay for the service. To sum it up, I just don't see them last too long.
          Spec
          • 4 Months Ago
          How are you any better off if the battery becomes obsolete and BP owns the battery? As a captive BP customer, you'll be forced to pay for their investment in that battery no matter what.
      PR
      • 4 Months Ago
      ffinder I break even in 4 years. After 4 years, I get a monthly payback In the form of selling excess electricity TO the utility company. Do you stop billing Customers after 4 years And instead start paying them back By sending them money for charging Their cars every month?
      • 4 Months Ago
      Nobody who can invest 750 million dollars in a project is totally stupid. Like any hi tech , wait and see if it works. iPhone worked , Betamax did not. Both were made by very smart people
      JP
      • 4 Months Ago
      BP, making EV's more expensive for no good reason. No thanks.
        • 4 Months Ago
        @JP
        Sorry for the double post.. unfortunately this comment system does not allow editing of comments after posting. The comment system of engadget.com (disqus.com) is much better as it allows editing of comments after posting among other advantages. ff
        • 4 Months Ago
        @JP
        In Israel: The Renault Fluence ZE costs 122,900 shekels ($32,500) The Chevrollet Volt costs 200,000 shekels ($52,890) The Prius Plug-in costs 173,000 shekels ($45,750) So the Renault Fluence ZE is 50,100 shekels ($13,250) cheaper than the Prius Plug-in. Source (Hebrew): FLUENCE ZE electric family car most cost-effective. PDF: http://repocorp.betterplace.com/Lists/MediaServer_Documents/electric%5B1%5D.pdf Youtube Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZK-24vn-jxE ff
        • 4 Months Ago
        @JP
        The Renault Fluence ZE costs 122,900 shekels ($32,500) The Chevrollet Volt costs 200,000 shekels ($52,890) The Prius Plug-in costs 173,000 shekels ($45,750) So the Renault Fluence ZE is 50,100 shekels ($13,250) cheaper than the Prius Plug-in. ff
          • 4 Months Ago
          JP: Removing the cost of batteries from the purchase price and taking it back on as a monthly payment does not lower the cost any more than leasing a car lowers it's cost. You are right, but the monthly payment of BPlace is around what i'm paying for gasoline every month which is something that i'm willing to pay instead of paying BIG OIL the same price every month i prefer to pay the same price every month to BPlace plus get a cheaper car and 3 minute battery swaps for unlimited range Luckily no other car maker seems to be buying into the hype. Chery Automobile in China bought the hype.. will develop $5000 SUV w/swapable batteries. ff
          marcopolo
          • 4 Months Ago
          @ffinder It's Ok to be a Better Place employee, but you should announce your conflict of interest when you post.
          JP
          • 4 Months Ago
          ffinder is a well known BP pumper. Since BP does not make batteries, EV's, or generate electricity, they can do nothing for EV's except raise their costs to cover their profits. Removing the cost of batteries from the purchase price and taking it back on as a monthly payment does not lower the cost any more than leasing a car lowers it's cost. Engineering and building a swappable pack adds costs, as does building and storing extra packs that sit around unused most of the time. It's a horrible idea that only generates profits for BP. Luckily no other car maker seems to be buying into the hype.
      Dan Frederiksen
      • 4 Months Ago
      it's just about ready in Denmark. we have swap stations and test drives have begun. first delivery soon
      • 4 Months Ago
      First 100 went to employees of better place. Customers get them in March
      • 4 Months Ago
      In other news.. Better Place Plans Electric-Car IPO Within 2 Years, Agassi Says ! ! http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-01-25/better-place-plans-electric-car-ipo-within-2-years-agassi-says.html Better Place LLC, a U.S. startup developing charging stations for electric vehicles that started putting cars on the road this week, expects to go public in the next two years, Chief Executive Officer Shai Agassi said. “We’re probably not going to go for another private round between now and the initial public offering,” Agassi, 43, who founded the business, said yesterday at Better Place’s test track and showroom north of Tel Aviv. “We have enough capital to go all the way until then.” Better Place, based in Palo Alto, California, has raised $750 million since it was founded four years ago and is in partnership with Renault SA (RNO) to install electric-car charging systems in Israel, Denmark and Australia. Cars are expected to start using the company network in Denmark within weeks and Australia later this year, Agassi said. The local capital expenses of the roll-outs will be funded by debt rounds in Israel and Denmark. In Australia, an equity round is planned to finance the introduction there, Agassi said. In China, where Better Place opened a visitors’ center in the southern city of Guangzhou last month, the company may raise money locally if it starts to expand there as part of its partnership with China Southern Power Grid Co... ..Station Roll-out “The global electric vehicle market is still at a nascent stage,” U.K. market-research company Technavio said in an August 2011 report. “The biggest challenge that is causing hindrance to the growth of the global electric vehicle market is the high price and low performance of electric vehicles as compared to conventional vehicles.” As many as 10,000 cars using Better Place stations will be on Israel and Denmark’s roads by the end of the year, said Agassi, who skipped his annual trip to the World Economic Forum in Davos this year to oversee the Israeli roll-out. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made cutting the nation’s dependence on petroleum one of his government’s primary goals. Israel’s energy imports are often connected to the geopolitical situation in the region, seen in multiple attacks on its gas pipeline from Egypt over the past year. “We buy batteries and sell at the price of oil so it is a great business to be in between those two elements,” according to Agassi. The visitors’ center in Israel has been expanded into a car retail showroom, where the Renault Fluence ZE model is being sold from 122,900 shekels ($32,500), including a subscription for fuel miles. ff
        PR
        • 4 Months Ago
        How much for a Renault Fluence ZE with the battery included so I can charge it myself and not be locked into a stupid "subscription for fuel miles"? It will be interesting how many of these get "stolen" from Israeli streets, hacked, and charged from whatever source people want.
          PR
          • 4 Months Ago
          @PR
          Not with my solar powered EV that I will completely own and not have to pay anyone else for ever again in my life dumbass.
          • 4 Months Ago
          @PR
          D'oh.. You already have a stupid "subscription for fuel miles" Sir.. It's called gasoline!! and you are already paying it every month.. You may also want to call stupid.. all those iPhone/Android subscribers with AT&T, Verizon etc.. D'oh.. ff
        Spec
        • 4 Months Ago
        Holy smokes. Stop spamming the message board with response to yourself and overly long messages filled with carriage-returns! BP IPO sounds as wise as Groupon and Zynga IPO. Highly speculative schemes.
        • 4 Months Ago
        In Israel: The Renault Fluence ZE costs 122,900 shekels ($32,500) The Chevrollet Volt costs 200,000 shekels ($52,890) The Prius Plug-in costs 173,000 shekels ($45,750) So the Renault Fluence ZE is 50,100 shekels ($13,250) cheaper than the Prius Plug-in. Source (Hebrew): FLUENCE ZE electric family car most cost-effective. PDF: http://repocorp.betterplace.com/Lists/MediaServer_Documents/electric%5B1%5D.pdf Youtube Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZK-24vn-jxE ff
      marcopolo
      • 4 Months Ago
      @ JP, Unhappily, every time Better Place is mentioned, a plethora of Better Place propaganda is posted by Better place employees. The implication that Renault endorse, or are partners with Better Place is a complete distortion. Renault will sell to anyone who buys their products. The Better place model may work in Israel due to a virtual monopoly situation with the only power company permitted in Israel becoming a partner! Israel is virtually a small Island for car travel purposes. However, with new batteries being developed with longer ranges the whole battery swapping idea is becoming more and more obsolete. But Shai Agaggai's money raising abilities are still intact!
        • 4 Months Ago
        @marcopolo
        "with new batteries being developed with longer ranges the whole battery swapping idea is becoming more and more obsolete." It will take at least 10 years for those "miracle batteries" with a price of $1'000 for 300 miles to be sold to car makers and new EV's get them. the general public will never buy EV's that cost more than $16'000 only the rich environmentalists.  “Even in 2020, consumers will find this price of $8,000 to $10,000 to be a significant part of the vehicle’s overall cost. (so consumers will buy the cheap petrol car..) http://www.bcg.com/media/PressReleaseDetails.aspx?id=tcm:12-37343 in 10 years BPlace will be selling SUV's at $5'000 with a monthly subscription tha's at least half of the gasoline price at that time if not even less.. ff
        JP
        • 4 Months Ago
        @marcopolo
        Yes ffinder is an obvious BP pumper, pops up every time. He was all over my anti BP blog articles.
        DaveMart
        • 4 Months Ago
        @marcopolo
        Not really. The potential sales were too large for Renault to ignore, so they specifically designed some of their cars to allow battery swapping in a co-ordinated fashion with BP. That does not mean that Renault necessarily endorses all the tricks that BP has got up to, but they were certainly hand in glove as the BP order and Israel's commitment for strategic reasons provided semi-assured orders to enable Renault to commit to production. Denmark going for BP beggars belief though, it seems mere lunacy equivalent to their $0.42kwh electricity. France is not so daft, and Renault lease batteries there at a fraction of the cost.
          marcopolo
          • 4 Months Ago
          @DaveMart
          @Dave Mart "The potential sales were too large for Renault to ignore, so they specifically designed some of their cars to allow battery swapping in a co-ordinated fashion with BP.' Well put, but I thought that was what I implied. Thank you for the clarification.
      • 4 Months Ago
      PR Not with my solar powered EV that I will completely own and not have to pay anyone else for ever again in my life Sorry, Didn't know you have solar panels and you are gasoline free.. you must have spend a great deal of money to attain this freedom Unfortunately the great majority of drivers are not gasoline free and will never buy an EV if it costs more than a gasoline car They will buy an EV if it's cheaper and more convenient than a gasoline car That's why BPlace has 80,000 cars signed up in Israel/Denmark BPlace is interested in selling to the great majority of drivers, not the few that are willing to make sacrifices like you to save money after 10-20 years. But as BPlace sells more cars over the years and batteries get cheaper their monthly fee will decrease.. and that will make BPlace even more popular so customers will be saving more money in the long run too. ff
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