Renault Fluence EZ concept, 2009 Frankfurt Auto Show

Renault Fluence EZ concept, 2009 Frankfurt Auto Show

Electric vehicles (EVs) are gaining momentum in the automotive industry, but a lot of questions still remain about their viability with the average automotive consumer. One company, a Silicon Valley startup, thinks they may have the business model figured out. The company—Better Place founded by Shai Agassi. Their goal—to mass market EVs and battery swapping charging stations.

Back in September Wired and ran an article talking about Better Place and their goals for deploying 100,000 electric vehicles by 2016. In order to meet this goal, Better Place has partnered with Renault and expects to have most of the aforementioned EVs on the road in Israel and Denmark. The final product will be called the Fluence ZE (ZE stands for “Zero Emissions”) and will be a five-passenger sedan able to achieve 99 miles on a single charge.

The thing that makes the Better Place model really intriguing is the battery swap option for recharging the vehicle. Basically, think of the battery swap option like a cellular phone plan. Better Place would sell a subscription to consumers that would give them access to battery swap stations. According to Agassi, charging stations for EVs are only the first step, but in order to propel them into the main stream you have to give them an unlimited range. You guessed it—that is where the swappable batteries come in.

Today, we have learned from our partner site,, that Better Place has secured $350 million additional investment dollars. This gift, if you will, came from HSBC (putting up $125 million) with the rest coming from other investors. With this agreement, Better Place has been propelled to the top spot on the list of clean tech investments in history. Just incase you want to put a number on that achievement; Better Place investment value has now reached $1.25 billion.

Kevin Adeson, HSBC Head of Global Capital Financing, said in a statement, ““We are confident that Better Place has the technical and commercial solutions to allow for the mass adoption of electric cars in the near term. The Better Place switchable battery solution, which addresses the range limitation of fixed battery electric cars, will offer the consumer an affordable and attractive alternative to current combustion engine and hybrid vehicles. We expect the Better Place model to be widely adopted across many countries and cities, particularly in those markets with policies strongly favoring electric vehicle adoption,”


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[Source: & Wired]