Project Better Place, the brainchild of entrepreneur and CEO Shai Agassi, in partnership with French automaker Renault, is an increasingly popular electric car service model that looks to the “service station” concept for electric cars. By developing an infrastructure of “swap stations,” drivers can swap discharged batteries in their electric cars in little more than five minutes, and be on their way. Pilot projects are already underway across the globe, including Denmark, Israel, Japan, Hawaii, California, and Australia.
Renault and Better Place announced this week plans sell up to 160,000 electric cars annually throughout Denmark and Israel starting in 2011.
Renault will produce three models of all-electric vehicles: a sedan, a compact, and a van. In Denmark the EV’s will cost up to $38,000 (200,000 Kroner), and drivers then sign up for a monthly service contract, modeled after cellular phone service agreements, for access to the batteries and swap service. “It will be like signing up for a mobile phone contract,” said Jens Moberg, CEO of Better Place Denmark, the Danish subsidiary of the transportation firm. The cost of the service plan has not yet been disclosed (nor the cost of the EVs in Israel). Under the service plan, batteries can then either be charged at home, taking a few hours, or swapped at swap stations in a few minutes.
About 100 swap stations are initially planned for Denmark, with many scattered around Copenhagen, the Danish capital. 50 or 60 stations should be available by the time the United Nations meets in Copenhagen for the upcoming COP15 Climate Conference in December. As the program expands, should too will the number of swap station, with nearly 1000 expected to be deployed in Denmark in coming years.
Moberg said the lithium-ion batteries will cost $11,760 to manufacture in 2011, as compared to the $30,000 it costs for the battery in a Tesla Roadster. As production increases, the cost of battery manufacture should fall, said Moberg.
Image credit: BetterPlace.com