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Those who scoff at the metric system may belittle any publicity related to kilometers covered instead of miles, but we're still pretty impressed.

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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.

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Project Better Place battery swap - Click above for a hi-res image gallery

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Although many share the vision of ubiquitous infrastructure to support future fleets of electric vehicles, the concept of battery swapping, frequently championed by Better Place, doesn't seem to have the same appeal as the fast-charge station. In fact, in the past week, battery swapping has come under a bit of fire from different quarters. On one side of the globe, we have Mercedes' director of group research and car development, Thomas Weber, telling The Marker that not only is the swapping pla

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A123 Systems may (repeat, may) have lost out on being the initial supplier of Chevy Volt batteries but that doesn't mean they are down and out. In fact, it appears that their lithium-iron-phosphate batteries will have energy storage duties for the electric cars of Better Place. Or at least some of the cars. A123 recently received an undisclosed amount of investment from Ofer Holdings Group which controls Better Place backer, Israel Corp. Idan Ofer, who is chairman of both Israel Corp. and Better

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Starting right about now (1 pm Pacific time), the folks from Better Place will hop onto the Seesmis video conversation channel and talk about what's new with the Australia announcement. I'll be listening in and updating this post with any news, but if you want to join in yourself, set up and account quickly and watch here (No, I don't get how a Seesmic video conversation works, either).

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We'll, that didn't take long. The announcement from Better Place about the next country planned for the electric vehicle expansion is here and we're off to Australia. Better Place announced the deal with AGL Energy and Macquarie Capital Group today, and there is more information coming in a conference call tomorrow. The information thus far is that Better Place will deploy an electric vehicle network, powered by renewable energy, that apparently has the potential to power all of Australia's 15 m

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Shai Agassi likes what he's hearing from French president Nicolas Sarkozy. Sarkozy recently announced a plan to expand sustainable transportation infrastructure in France, including more money for electric vehicles. The founder of Project Better Place - and someone with an apparent inability to find a media outlet he doesn't like - said that France's move accelerates "the inevitable electrification of the automobile" (see also: Johnson Controls).

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By now many of us around these parts know who Shai Agassi is and what he wants to do. He wants to build a distribution infrastructure of swappable batteries to be used in electric cars with the ultimate goal of making EVs mainstream. The problem is that electric cars remain an expensive proposition. Even with Agassi's approach that would sell the EV without a battery and add on a subscription model for the battery, the up-front cost will remain higher than conventional cars. Nonetheless, in Pari

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Bad news for fans of the Better Place plan - maybe. According to a report on an Israeli business website, Renault executives at a conference in Geneva have said that the electric car bound for Israel, to be franchised by Shai Agassi's Better Place, will be delayed by a year. However, the website also states 2011 as the new launch date which is basically when Renault has originally said it would happen. Perhaps it is just a matter of it happening at year's end rather than the beginning. No reason

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If competition spurs companies to improve the quality of their offerings and the speed with which they innovate, then we may soon expect more from Shai Agassi's Better Place and its partner in Israel, Renault. While BYD already announced they would be selling electric vehicles in Israel earlier this month, that pronunciation gains serious weight with the news that IDB Holding Corp. Ltd. is said to be close to officially announcing a deal with the Chinese automaker to bring both its all-electric

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Having the family car converted to run on electricity has become a very popular concept in Palestine. Since we told you about the Peugeot prototype, the two men behind the project, Waseem Khazendar and Fayaz Anan, have heard from over 400 folks willing to throw down the $2,500 they say it would cost to do the work. Only there's one small problem: because of the Israeli blockade currently in place, they only have enough materials to convert 30 or 40 vehicles. The blockade also keeps them from cha

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No one could ever accuse Shai Agassi, the man behind electric-car infrastructure company Project Better Place, of not being ambitious. He has been all over the planet making deals with major car makers and various countries. His American discussions have been somewhat more modest though with a city here, and an island-state there. No longer.

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Project Better Place is set to expand beyond Israel and Denmark with an agreement for Portugal to join the electric vehicle infrastructure project. Portugese Prime Minister Jose Socrates will soon sign on to the plan that will use electric cars from Renault and Nissan. Part of Project Better Place involves setting up networks of public charging points and battery exchange stations. Utility company Energias de Portugal SA is working with other European utilities to create the Grid for Vehicles ch

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While Nissan/Renault has been very helpful to Project Better Place in Israel by offering to supply electric cars that will work with their recharging and battery swapping service, its cooperation with PBP may not be extending to its homeland of Japan. Not only has Nissan undertaken its own investigation to decide what business model is best suited for the island nation (Like the "Project," they are looking closely at the battery-lease model as a way to keep the initial vehicle purchase price low

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After lots of initial enthusiasm and many deals done, Project Better Place is starting to attract some critics. The most recent fault-finding flak comes from Karin Kloosterman who suggests that PBP is "green smoke and mirrors." In a piece for the Huffington Post....wait a sec., isn't that a website for latte-slurping, Prius-collecting, (etc. etc.) liberals who are all gaga about the prospect of electric cars? We'll leave it to you to decide which media outlets are fair and balanced while we focu

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We've told you all about Shai Agassi's (above left) ambitious Project Better Place and how PBP has plans to create a charging and battery-swapping infrastructure to support fleets of electric cars in Israel, Denmark and possibly Japan. We've also noted not only PBP's deals with Renault to be the first major auto supplier for the scheme but Renault's repeated announcements of its intention to bring electric cars to America in couple of years from now. Now all of this seems to be coming together a

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One of the launching points for Shai Agassi's Project Better Place is in Israel and it looks like the first tangible progress might be demonstrated this weekend. The CEO of PBP is planning to drive a prototype electric car that is being developed at around noon on Sunday at the Fairgrounds and Conference Center in Tel Aviv Israel. Agassi will apparently provide an update on the status of the project to develop both electric cars and a charging infrastructure. Israel is just one of a number of co

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Recently, we told you about rumors of a possible partnership between Renault and Project Better Place. Renault spokesperson, Rochelle Chimenes, confirmed Wednesday that Renault is talking to Project Better Place about a possible partnership and said that a deal could be announced in the first half of 2008. Chimenes also said Renault might build an electric car manufacturing plant in Israel. A Renault electric car factory in Israel is very possible because Israel may make electric car production

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San Jose Mercury News asked an interesting question in a recent article: "Silicon Valley is already the capital of the world's high-tech industry. Is it also becoming the Detroit of the electric car industry?" The San Jose Mercury News article includes an interview with Shai Agassi of Project Better Place (based in San Carlos, California) who is known for calling his battery exchange start up Google-like. "In the valley, we know how to do technology disruption. We know how to do business models,

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