Better Place opens demo centre

February 10, 2010 § Leave a comment

Israeli think-tank/infrastructure development consortium Better Place (it dropped the ‘Project’ part of its name a while back) has opened its first demo centre at a petrol supply depot in Pi Glilot – inside a refurbished oil storage tank. It says it now has 92 corporate partners signed up to its EV supply and support scheme – it’s importing 45,000 Fluence ZEs from Renault next year – and a deal to fit battery-swap stations at Dor Alon petrol stations throughout Israel.

The demo centre includes a 1.5km test track, multimedia displays and virtual driving experiences, and it opens for group tours on the 14th February.  Better Place is also gearing up for a launch in Denmark.

The battery-swap idea is certainly innovative – rather than plug in an EV for eight hours to recharge, you simply roll up to a robotised station (which looks a bit like a car wash) where the tired battery is taken out and a fresh recharged one slotted in. But it has its limitations, not least in how it can handle different makes/models of cars, as there are no universal batteries.

Might work for a one-make fleet, but establishing these stations is also going to be expensive; and as someone with a vested interest (MD of a company supplying on-street charging points) told me last year, by the time this stuff arrives in Europe, battery-life technology and quick-charging facilities will have moved on enough to render them unnecessary. Will be watching this with interest.

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