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Project Better Place – subscription based electric car ownership offers a new deal for the future?


Project Better Place is a new Israeli initiative which aims to augment conventional car ownership with a subscription based service which incorporates a subsidized purchase price with a complete recharging, battery replacement and servicing package across the country. 

Despite the subsidized price people will still own their cars, it’s just that the running costs will be subscription based rather like the mobile phone sector. It’s a fascinating idea. The team has raised $200 million in venture backing and intends to start up a small trial this year with Renault-Nissan electric cars (probably delivery vehicles and taxis first).

 Through these subscription models, vehicle owners will be linked into a nationwide network of charge spots and exchange stations. When a consumer parks his or her car, the network synchronizes the car with the smart electric grid to recharge the battery. When a driver travels long-distance, he or she can swap batteries at an exchange station to get a fully charged battery, similar to how we now stop to fill our gas tanks today. To match multiple customer segments, Project Better Place will offer several car models and subscription pricing packages that will reduce total cost of ownership and subsidize the car as part of this package.

1 Comment

  • Project Better Place probably should be renamed Project Better Con.
    Agassi’s idea , which is a very old one, Agassi didn’t originate the idea
    either of swappable batteries or leasing batteries (GM did). Leasing batteries mostly means nothing unless the amortization greatly exceeds the normal auto loan length (5-6 years) which it doesn’t. So in this case, the use of leasing is largely a scam that takes money off the car’s sticker price and hides it in the “leasing and maintenance” contract. The driver doesn’t own his own battery, and will have to pay exorbitant costs to both lease and swap said batteries. The cost of batteries is one of the two largest problems with battery-only electric vehicles, and is the major reason why GM and others are concentrating on plug-in hybrids. So Agassi’s scheme means that there must exist in his system (paid for by the leasees) far more than 100 very expensive battery packs for every 100 vehicles. He has, in effect, greatly increased the price of the batteries, already too expensive for the average car owner. The only saving grace for this
    preposterously silly scheme is that Isael is about the size of a postage stamp, and Israelis don’t drive across their borders. But already there are some slow witted types claiming that the system would “work” in a place like the US. Hmm, that would require about 30 battery swaps to get across the US. And look how difficult it will be to insure that every swap station has a battery ready for every customer. Trying to maintain a balanced inventory would be insane
    and require lots of reserve, very expensive battery packs. The Israelis are silly to not wait for plug-in hybrids like the Volt, which will be plentiful shortly after they start building their crazy system. They,
    and a relatively small amount of locally produced ethanol , can do everything that a battery-only EV fleet can do, in terms of avoiding gasoline and carbon emissions. Israel got suckered, and bought a pig in a poke.

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