San Francisco will get a treat of a different kind in 2014 when battery-swapping network builder Better Place starts serving a fleet of electric-powered taxis in the Bay Area, Forbes reports.

Using funds from a $3 million grant from the California Energy Commission, Better Place will launch the project with four Coda Sedan EVs that will be customized by FEV to allow their batteries to be switched out in a matter of minutes. Ultimately, Better Place looks to support a fleet of 60 electric taxis between San Francisco and San Jose with six battery-swapping stations along the way.

Better Place, which already serves electric taxi programs in Tokyo and Amsterdam, began its battery swapping systems in Israel and Denmark with Renault EVs. Then, word came out in October that Better Place and Coda were working together on a battery-swappable taxi program for airports, though few details emerged beyond that.

In early October, Better Place replaced founder Shai Agassi with Better Place Australia chief Evan Thornley. While the company has raised about $750 million since its 2007 founding, it has also lost more than $400 million since then.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 35 Comments
      • 2 Years Ago
      e Better Place system is the best system currently for electric taxi fleets...the cost to run a fleet of regular gas guzzling, noise producing is wasteful. For a third of the cost fleets can have unlimited Mobility within the city... The investment pays off in several ways: Less need for foreign oil. Environmental benefits Long term health care Increased tourism etc... The only issues I see are that the better place system may be too expensive for regular drivers...and that the system may become obsolete when battery technology reaches the point where swapping is unnecessary...but for right now, better Place and Taxi fleets are the best solution.
      EVnerdGene
      • 2 Years Ago
      where do you get in line for the stupid-money? Ohhhhhhh, California.
      taser it
      • 2 Years Ago
      Horrible business model, given that a DC fast charger and the proper battery chemistry would eliminate all of the overhead and drawbacks associated with battery swapping (limited locations, labor costs, building costs). The window for this business never really opened.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @taser it
        Try to charge taxi with level 3 charger every day and after a year battary will be dead /
        Spec
        • 2 Years Ago
        @taser it
        I don't know . . . I still think DC fast charging probably harms even the batteries most designed to handle it. And you can't charge them up fully. And charging up to 80% still takes 20 to 30 minutes compared to 3 minutes.
          Joeviocoe
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Spec
          Even taxi drivers deserve a lunch break. If you have a 265 mile pack... this is perfect for an inner city taxi service. The distances are not far, but the time is long.... a SF taxi can drive about 120 miles in 6 hours in dense traffic, take a 1 hour lunch break to supercharge and go again. 1 supercharge per day has not been tested thoroughly though. But taxi services are used to beating the hell out of a car and auctioning them off very early. Who knows, it may be acceptable.
          Joeviocoe
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Spec
          Are those chemistries also on par with energy density, specific power, operating temperature, cycle life, calendar life, and cost???? Many people cherry pick one or two metric, but don't realize that an EV battery must have many specification that are acceptable.
          EVSUPERHERO
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Spec
          Some believe, that with some chemistries the batteries actually last longer with fast charges.
      Doug
      • 2 Years Ago
      I have some articles on this topic collected here: http://www.teslamotorsclub.com/showthread.php/10664-CA-spends-3M-on-6-EV-Taxis I think they had already spent $7M on this project. Might have seemed like a good idea a few years ago. But this appears to be a gross waste of public funds given the alternatives that are currently available.
      JP
      • 2 Years Ago
      WTF? For 3 mil they could have had 40 85kWh Tesla Model S's and had a couple hundred grand left over for charge stations. This is insanity.
        cwerdna
        • 2 Years Ago
        @JP
        Nuts indeed. Or, they could've had over 70 Leafs and a couple hundred grand leftover for charging stations, including some CHAdeMO ones.
      ev_ftw
      • 2 Years Ago
      Awwwwww.... It's so cute when the ugly kids pair off...
      Marcopolo
      • 2 Years Ago
      Good grief, now we have two groups of really dubious bottom feeders of the EV world, uniting ! Oh, what a surprise, California has just 'given', (not 'lent' )an ex-leftist politician, and his scamster mates, $3,000,000 of taxpayer money for another useless project. This 'gift' of $3 million is far more important than providing books for California's decrepit public education system, or Veterans rehabilitation housing, or a myriad of really worthwhile projects. Of course the government of California is so affluent, with so much extra cash, that it can easily afford such nonsense ! What's that ? California's broke and living on borrowed money ? Well, I have a suggestion ..........
        Spec
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Marcopolo
        Meh. This is not some nefarious plan hatched by Dr. Evil. $3 million is a relatively small amount of money and the project supports two companies largely based in California. This $3M may help bring in private outside investment to help these two California based companies along. I agree that prospects are slim for these two companies . . . but a $3M grant is not causing people to die.
          Actionable Mango
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Spec
          (1) The "relatively small" excuse is said about hundreds of things, and they add up. (2) These guys have a hugely shady history. They are milking California. You are essentially defending scamsters.
          Spec
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Spec
          They are not scamsters . . . just people with a bad business plan. I've never been a fan of Better Place because I don't think a system wherein you get locking into a single supplier works. But there is a difference between a criminal fraud that some people seem to want to allege and just a bad business idea.
        Actionable Mango
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Marcopolo
        What is an "ex-leftist"? Is that someone who used to be a leftist and is now a rightist?
          Marcopolo
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Actionable Mango
          @ Actionable Mango The '' ex " is reference to his former occupation as a minister in the Labour Party government. Mind you, this is the same party whose ministers corruptly use inside information to make $ 100's of millions in personal benefits. To Evan Thornley's credit, he was already a dot com millionaire, before entering politics.
        Joeviocoe
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Marcopolo
        Ouch, tell me how you really feel? Anyway, I fully expect this to fail. $3mil is NOT a whole lot of money in the grand scheme of things. Sure, it could have been better spent... and I hope this won't be another complete embarrassment like Solyndra. But on the bright side, it could at least provide some folks with familiarity with EVs. As of right now, even in CA, people are scared of EVs. They've never even driven in one. It might be worth $3mil just as a publicity stunt doomed to fail financially.
          Marcopolo
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          @ Joeviocoe, My real objection is that this money is not a loan to some struggling US car company, or start up developing new American technology, but an outright gift to two companies, owed by hugely wealthy oil companies and a group of very dubious PRC,Israeli, American business interests of extremely dubious business integrity and even more appalling reputations. Dumping the delusional but charismatic, Shai Aggassi, and replacing him with an hereditary billionaire in the shipping, oil, drilling etc business renowned for international covert dealings, as chairman is more sinister than an improvement. Aquiring an ex-Australian leftist opportunistic politician renowned for , to put kindly, careless misrepresentation of the truth, to front the scam hasn't improved anything either ! I hate to pour cold water on any EV. But the progress of EV's could would be better of without any of these organizations and individuals. Certainly no taxpayers funds should be 'donated' to these people. (Curiously, Better Place has always rejected the only potential use for their swapping concept, public transport buses.)
      Giza Plateau
      • 2 Years Ago
      There is going to be a bit of an adjustment period when Coda, Fisker, Tesla and Better Place are bankrupt. Loremo failed, Aptera failed. Who will be the hero
      GeorgeS
      • 2 Years Ago
      Coda Taxi's?? Who's brilliant idea was that?? Will Coda even be around by then?? I doubt it!
        Doug
        • 2 Years Ago
        @GeorgeS
        Or will Better Place even be around?
      Ryan
      • 2 Years Ago
      This is a good idea for any city, if the battery change place is at the airport and a 35 mile range will get you anywhere in the city. Both of these companies need to talk with rental car agencies too.
      Doug
      • 2 Years Ago
      $3 Million for four Coda Taxis?!?!? Who the heck wants to ride around in a Coda. For that money you could get 20 spacious Tesla Model Ss (with 265 mile EPA rated range) and still have a million left over for a several Tesla Supercharger stations. That way people can ride around in style and not see EVs as mid '90s Nissan Sentras.
        Dave
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Doug
        For $3,000,000 they could have bought 65 or so Nissan Leafs AND given each one a 220 volt charger.
          Doug
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Dave
          A slow 220 V (3.3 or 6.6 kW) charger, 80 mile range, and limited cargo probably wouldn't be as suited for a taxi as 265 mile range, 90 kW charging, and plentiful cargo space. But yeah, you could get a bunch of Leafs and 50 kW CHAdeMO chargers to do that job better than a bunch of Codas.
        Spec
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Doug
        It is the swapping stations that cost huge amounts of money. $3 million will probably not be nearly enough. And the cost of re-engineering the Codas to have swappable batteries. I
        JakeY
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Doug
        To be fair, it says ultimately the goal is 60 taxis and 6 swapping stations. It just starts with 4 taxis and 2 stations. Don't know how the funds will be divided (I think a station costs about $500k so 2 will already use up $1 million).
      bluepongo1
      • 2 Years Ago
      Too bad there is no Japanese connection because I had an idea for a movie where (still Governor ) Arnold fights a giant robot made of Codas that robs CA banks.
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