Friday, May 15, 2009

Better Place To Set-Up Electric Car Battery Exchanges in Australia


With the car-buying market becoming increasingly conscious of environmental issues, there is a growing impetus among manufacturers to meet consumer demand for greater fuel economy and lower emissions.

Now, with the advent of ‘plug-in-and-charge’ electric vehicles such as the upcoming Chevrolet Volt, and a number of other all-electric models expected in Australia within the next three years (including a Nissan vehicle as shown above), the question of a universal infrastructure for recharging and battery swaps has become an important one.

Electric vehicle services provider Better Place spoke recently with technology website CNET about the company’s bold plans for five hundred ‘battery exchange stations’ around Australia commencing in 2011.

At the battery exchange stations, drivers of Better Place compatible EVs will be able to have their nearly depleted lithium battery pack swapped-out for a fully charged set.

As reported by CNET, Better Place is also aiming to have re-charge plug-in points right across the country - in public places such as roadsides and public car parks, as well as charging points in electric vehicle owners’ homes.

Better Place CEO, Evan Thorley, told CNET that Australia was chosen because the system works best for long distance drivers, and our expansive country has plenty of those.


Guy Pross, Better Place’s Government Affairs Director revealed, “We’ll electrify, say, Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, giving drivers a 160km range around Australia’s three major cities, because we can already do that in Israel and Denmark.”

“The big difference is that Australia is a very large country and there’s about 1000km each between those three centres. We can electrify the Hume Highway between Sydney and Melbourne by putting in 20 battery swap stations.”

“At about AU$10 million, that’s not a lot of money to connect Sydney and Melbourne.”

Better Place hopes to remove the obstacles holding back electric vehicles by owning the battery pack installed in Better Place-compatible vehicles. Motorists will likely pay per kilometre driven, although the company is looking at an “unlimited number” of possible pricing deals.

The company claims that this should make the price of EVs competitive with petrol/diesel cars. While the battery exchange stations should ease consumers’ concerns about touring range.