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Better Place: Electric Car Battery Swapping Service Envisioning Worldwide Expansion

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You may have probably heard of Project Better Place before – it’s the business led by Shai Agassi that imposes itself a truly hard to get goal: to make a network of battery swapping and charging stations for the not-so-distant electric cars.

“Most people give us two more years to prove this vision is a reality,” Agassi said on Monday, anticipating that the service his company will provide will kick fossil-fuels in their soft spot – the price.

Envisioning a a price equivalent of $2 to $2.50 per gasoline gallon, Agassi goes further and sets a goal that in ten years his company will provide a $1 per gallon equivalent price. The fore-mentioned prices include the costs of the battery and the maintenance of the entire swapping network.

Some cars that he targets are Renault Fluence ZE, Nissan Leaf, and possibly some Chinese cars made by Chery. What if a $5,000 Chinese-made electric car sold in the United States? “All hell will break loose,” he said. He also says that the electric cars will get a green light in the consumers’ eyes if they will be somewhere between $3,000 to $5,000 cheaper than their gasoline counterparts.

Better Place has already built swapping stations for taxis in Tokyo, where a normally working unit would have its battery changed in as little as 1 minute – much faster than fueling at the pump. Other countries targeted for the release of Better Place‘s services are Israel, Denmark (powered by 600 windmills), Australia by 2011, and in the U.S. – Hawaii and California, in 2012.

Only the investment in Israel costs $150 million, including infrastructure, office space, staff, etc. 700 to 800 visitors to Better Place‘s visitor center in Israel say that their next car will be electric, when seeing the advantages.

It’s a bright future for electric cars, and a bad one for the oil industry. All of that thanks to people like Agassi, Elon Musk from Tesla Motors, and others, who started with small steps but big faith and help the big players in the auto industry develop electric cars easier than ever.

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