One of the problems with an all electric car is charging them. As opposed to gasoline stations, there are far fewer opportunities to charge electric vehicles. Shai Agassi hopes Israel is ready to embrace the efficiency and economics of electric cars. His company Better Place rolled out four electric car charging stations in northern Israel. It is planned to quickly grow this network so that every place in Israel be within range of one of their network stations. This is intended to eliminate, the range anxiety which frightens some consumers out of considering electric cars. Better Place contracted with French automaker Renault to produce a customized version of their Fluence electric car.
Israel is not the only place where Better Place is using this concept of wide distribution system combined with an electric car concept. Earlier in 2011 in Hawaii they did the same. To use this network, drivers can signup for a free membership and see an interactive map of Charge Spot locations at www.betterplace.com/hawaii. Membership includes free network access for 2012.
Better Place has jettisoned the fixed battery concept to avoid long charging times. Instead, drivers can swap their depleted batteries for fully charged ones at a network of stations, receiving a full, 100-mile range in five minutes. Better Place owns the batteries, bringing down the purchase price of the cars using the network.
People driving shorter distances, the vast majority of customers, can plug in their batteries each day to chargers installed at their homes, offices and public locations, which will fully recharge in six to eight hours.
So far, the four Better Place battery stations are set up in central and northern Israel. During the second half of the year, around 40 stations are due to be operating across the country. But even before that, the company says enough will be up that a motorist could make the 300 mile drive from Israel’s northern tip to its southern end.
Israel was chosen for the experiment in part because of its tech-savvy population. Also, with 80 percent of the population living in a narrow, densely populated stretch along the Mediterranean coast, it provides a perfect laboratory for the relatively small charging network.
Denmark is set to become Better Place’s second launch site this year. Australia is to become its first major market, with deployment in the capital, Canberra, also this year. Small-scale projects are already in place in Hawaii and California. Amsterdam is the next European target after Denmark.
Article by Andy Soos, appearing courtesy Environmental News Network.