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Better Place, Sheraton Waikiki and Hawaiian Electric Partner on EV Charge Network in Hawaii

Media Release:

Better Place announced today the start of its initial deployment of EV infrastructure in Hawaii, with the launch of a project to incorporate its electric-vehicle infrastructure in Honolulu, in partnership with Kyo-ya Hotels & Resorts’ Sheraton Waikiki Resort and Hawaiian Electric Company. The project will start with a small number of charge spots in Waikiki and around Oahu and includes seven electric vehicles. Better Place will manage the charging of the vehicles via a network operations center located in Palo Alto, California.

“Hawaii’s commitment to being a world leader in renewable energy, as demonstrated by the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative, aligns very strongly with our mission to help end the world’s reliance on oil,” said Jason Wolf, Vice President of Better Place’s North American Operations. “This project marks the beginning of our initial, pre-commercial infrastructure deployment in Hawaii. It supports the state’s goal of leading the nation in renewable energy use, which Better Place will integrate into the grid via electric cars.”

Better Place was among five clean-energy companies awarded funding from the Hawaii Renewable Energy Development Venture (HREDV), a project of the local nonprofit Pacific International Center for High Technology Research that allocates U.S. Department of Energy funds.

“The role of HREDV is to accelerate commercialization of these clean-tech projects so that private investors and customers can follow with increased confidence,” said HREDV project director Maurice Kaya. “The winning companies showed how their technologies could be game-changers in Hawaii and demonstrated strong technical and management expertise to execute the projects and manage federal funds…”

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Project Better Place… An Update

I just received the following email regarding the Project Better Place project:

Hi Damon,

Hope all is well! I noticed you blogged about Better Place’s battery exchange station back in May so I just wanted to pass this information along to you as an FYI.  Better Place released figures today from a multi-national study that conducted systematic research on consumer interest in electric vehicles (including Hawaii), Israel, Denmark, Canada, and Australia. (EVs) – it surveyed drivers in the U.S.

Some of the key findings in the study included:
•    More than one in three would not consider a ‘gas only’ car for their next vehicle.
•    EVs have mainstream appeal – interest spans all demographic groups and driving patterns.
•    Americans’ top priority in their next car is fuel efficiency.
•    Americans are concerned about climate change, air pollution, and dependence on oil.
•    There is a strong desire for the U.S. to provide global leadership in development of renewable energy.

I’ve also included the full release below.

Mahalo!
Andrew

Strong Consumer Interest in Electric Vehicles Bodes Well for New Era of Sustainable Transportation
Multi-national survey reveals that electric cars have mainstream appeal

Palo Alto, Calif. (July 13, 2009) – Nearly one in three (30%) U.S. car buyers are interested in purchasing an electric vehicle (EV) for their next car, according to a recent study on consumer EV sentiment sponsored by Better Place and conducted by Ipsos, a leading global market-research company. While interest in EVs was strong in all five nations surveyed, interest was highest in Israel, where 57% of drivers are interested in purchasing an EV for their next car. Denmark (40%), Australia (39%), Canada (35%; Greater Toronto area only), and the U.S. (30%) followed.  And, 28% of Israeli respondents said they would only consider an EV for their next vehicle.

Highlights of the survey of more than 8,000 drivers are:
•    Consumers are ready to move beyond gasoline. The multi-national study revealed that, on average, nearly half (48%) of car buyers do not plan to consider “gas-only” automobiles for their next car.
•    Electric cars have mainstream appeal. Interest in EVs spans all demographics and driving patterns, dispelling concerns that EVs are niche products.  Interest in EVs was widespread among men and women and across income levels.  Interest was high across the age spectrum as well, although younger drivers (18-34) were the most interested. Driving patterns had little impact on EV interest. Interest was also similar among those whose car was the secondary car in the household, the primary car in the household, and also among those for whom the car was the only car in the household.
•    Interest does vary on the basis of car buyers’ societal concerns. According to the study, most U.S. car buyers are concerned about air pollution or climate change (62%) and even more concerned about the country’s dependence on oil (74%), even more than terrorism (63%). Related to these concerns, U.S. car buyers want the nation to be a global leader in developing renewable energy (78%), reducing worldwide oil consumption (59%), and reducing pollution (55%).  Those expressing one or more of these concerns are more likely to say they are interested in purchasing an EV for their next car.

“The survey reflects the future of transportation, which is electric,” said Shai Agassi, Founder and CEO, Better Place.  “There’s a perfect storm of dynamics driving toward mainstream adoption of EVs, including consumer desire for a clean planet, global efforts to decrease oil consumption, transformation in the auto sector and significant investment in technology.  The combination of these factors is propelling the dawn of a new automotive era.”

About the Study Methodology:
The study was conducted in March and April 2009, when gas prices were near a 52-week low, and included more than 8,000 respondents from the U.S., Canada (Greater Toronto Area), Australia (Sydney/Central Coast, Melbourne/Geelong, Brisbane/Gold Coast), Denmark, and Israel. The size of the sample exceeds that of most studies of this type, increasing the reliability and precision of the estimates. Ipsos drew a stratified, random sample to reflect the gender, income and age profile of each local market from best-of-class, online-survey panels in each market. The sample was filtered to include only those individuals involved in the selection of their prior car or expected to be involved in their next car purchase. Participants were given comparable descriptions of electric, hybrid, and gas-only cars in order to assess their interest. Standard data cleaning procedures were employed, and Ipsos and Better Place performed statistical analyses.

About Better Place:
Better Place, the leading electric vehicle services provider, is accelerating the global transition to sustainable transportation. Better Place is building the infrastructure and intelligent network to deliver a range of services to drivers, enable widespread adoption of electric vehicles, and optimize energy use. The Better Place network addresses historical limitations to adoption by providing unlimited driving range in a convenient and accessible manner. The company works with all parts of the transportation ecosystem, including automakers, battery suppliers, energy companies, and the public sector, to create a compelling solution. Based in California and privately held, Better Place has operating companies in Israel, Denmark, and Australia. More information is available at http://www.betterplace.com.

About Ipsos:
Ipsos is a leading global survey-based market research company, owned and managed by research professionals that helps interpret, simulate, and anticipate the needs and responses of consumers, customers, and citizens around the world. Member companies assess market potential and interpret market trends to develop and test emergent or existing products or services, and build brands. They also test advertising and study audience responses to various media, and measure public opinion around the globe. Visit www.ipsos.com to learn more.

What a Project Better Place Battery Changing Station May Look Like

Yokohama, Japan — Better Place today achieved a milestone in accelerating the mass-market adoption of electric vehicles by demonstrating the worlds first battery switch technology along with electric car charging spots. This simple range extension technology delivers a cleaner, more convenient experience for drivers. Better Place was the only foreign company invited by the Japanese Ministry of Environment to demonstrate its switch technology, which provides a viable solution to make electric vehicles a reality by offering drivers virtually unlimited range.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pe7HKZPpP7M&hl=en&fs=1]

Better Place showcased its battery switch platform today using a modified NISSAN electric crossover SUV to demonstrate how to switch a depleted battery for a fully charged one. The company also demonstrated its commitment to open network standards by charging a fixed battery electric car, via one of four Better Place charge spots installed at the demonstration site. Recharging of the vehicle batteries is made possible by Sharp Corp. photovoltaic solar panels, creating a truly zero emission solution.

Project Better Place Cars to Cost Consumers Between $4,000 and $5,000 Yearly in Battery “Subscriptions”… Agassi Looking to Tap Stimulus Funds for Hawaii Market

I’ve been blogging about Project Better Place coming to Hawaii before most people even heard about it.

Now Shai Agassi himself has put a dollar figure on what it’s going to cost to run one of these buggahs annually.

…Agassi says he expects Better Place to earn between $4,000 and $5,000 in annual battery subscription fees per car. That would be the equivalent of buying $76 to $100 worth of gasoline a week, which seems on the high side for even a suburban commuter given current gasoline prices. That’s also far more than what Better Place’s initial urban customers likely pay for gas. Of course, the wild card is the price of gas. If it goes back up to $4 or more per gallon, Better Place’s numbers start to look more reasonable…

…He’s hoping to tap stimulus package funds to help pay for Hawaii’s network…

Like I said before… Only the wealthy will be able to afford these things.

Project Better Place: “Governor Lingle of Hawaii was really the driving force behind getting us to Hawaii”

Project Better Place is in the news again, this time is the New York Times
:

…”DP: Hawaii’s an island. Australia’s a big island. Why islands?

SA: Contained islands are easier to work with, because you have sort of an ecosystem of cars that don’t go in and out…”

To see a recent CBS video on the project, click here

Electric Car Stations

IBM Tests Smart Charge in Denmark for Project Better Place

The computing giant is making another smart grid foray, simulating how to match intermittent wind power to charging electric vehicles on a Danish island with 40,000 residents. Dong Energy and Better Place are also eyeing Denmark…

…IBM is trying to figure out how to match the ebb and flow of intermittent wind power to the needs of charging electric vehicle batteries in Denmark – needs that could grow if the country’s biggest utility and Better Place get their way…

More Here

And of course everything I have already said here regarding Project Better Places aspirations of getting up and running in Hawaii.

“Project Better Place” An Interesting Debate

I was the first in the State to mention Project Better Place coming to Hawaii back on September 7th of last year.

I’ve thought about the project for awhile, and I think it might work on the other islands the way they have the stations planned now, but I just don’t see how they can be feasible with only four stations on the Big Island.

charging1

In this recently released youtube clip, Project Better Place CEO Shai Agassi talks about the Hawaii Project at  about the 7:00 minute mark.  Towards the end of the video, a managing editor at Forbes explains why this might not work.

Better Place CEO and founder Shai Agassi wants to change the automotive industry by switching gas stations with battery replacement and charging stations for the next generation of electric cars.

Although current plans include smaller areas like Hawaii, Israel, Denmark, and San Francisco, Better Place aims at nothing short of an industry-transforming revolution. Will it be possible?

In this extended interview (at end of clip), Shai Agassi discusses his companys plans and challenges. Bruce Upbin, a managing editor at Forbes Magazine, comments on Better Places challenges and why the network may not work in the U.S.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lXL76NyTSKU&hl=en&fs=1]

Things to think about:

1. Prices of Gas have fallen…

2. Building a network… is there enough stations

3. Capital… does Project Better Place have enough money?

Electric Car Firms Push Alternatives to Project Better Place

I’m still not a big fan just yet of this proposed Project Better Place idea that will be sweeping through Hawaii in the next few years.

Representatives from Miles Electric Vehicles, Phoenix Motorcars and Global Electric Motorcars say they believe the future is fast-charging stations, not battery-replacement stations, for electric vehicles.

…representatives of several electric-vehicle companies said fast-charging stations would be more successful in the United States than Project Better Place’s plan to exchange empty batteries for charged ones.


I was the first to blog about this project coming to Hawaii way back in September and I’m still skeptical about it.