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Better Place's $1 Billion Electric Vehicle Grid Headed to Bay Area


By Thomas Ricker
San Jose Mercury News
November 21st 2008


Need another reason to live in America's other bastion of social liberalism and
homelessness? How about a $1 billion electric vehicle re-charging infrastructure
in the Bay Area? Palo Alto's Better Place is finally bringing its ambitious,
city-wide electrical grid and battery exchange service home after staking plans
to do the same in Israel, Denmark, and Australia. The plan just endorsed by the
San Jose, Oakland, and San Francisco Mayors (without coughing up any money), is
expected to result in 250,000 charging ports (for topping off charges), 200
battery-swap stations (for trips over 100 miles), and a driver service center by
2012 -- network planing and permitting will begin in 2009 with infrastructure
deployment set to kickoff in 2010. Here's how it works, customers will receive a
discounted price on electric vehicles when they subscribe to drive a certain
number of miles -- Better Place will own the batteries. Besides clearing the way
of government bureaucracy, the mayors have agreed to offer incentives for
companies that install the plug-in stations. Now get this, Better Place expects
to lure electric vehicles from the usual suspects like Toyota, Renault-Nissan,
and GM in addition to, get this, Tesla Motors. Oh yes. Almost makes us want to
hug an Upper Haight, teenage, poser hippie. Almost.

Update: Coincidentally, Tesla is considering a small, swappable battery for its
Model S sport sedan that, according to Elon Musk, could be changed "faster than
you can fill a car with gasoline." Ah, synergy.

 

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