To Own the Battery or Not?

Matthew DeBord finds Better Place's business model falling 'akwardly' between plug-in hybrids and pure-electric cars.

Published: 30-Dec-2009

Gas 2.0’s Christopher DeMorro brings up Better Place’s proposed battery-swapping scheme for a new generation of affordable electric cars, only to ... well, sorta kinda join the list of Better Place skeptics. For background, Better Place is an aggressive startup that wants to take batteries out of the electric-car equation for owners: You own the car, but Better Place owns the battery. When you run out of juice, you visit a battery-swapping station and get a new battery. This enables the EV to be priced at a competitive $20,000 or so.

Here’s DeMorro’s complaint:

“Personally, I like the idea of owning every part of my car, and the idea of being under contract to my car dealer isn’t all that appealing. Such a contract would no doubt carry stipulations and dozens of ways to void your warranty, and what happens if Better Place’s plan doesn’t quite work out? Are you left with a $20,000 paper weight?”


Smith Electric is Valence customer.

Valence began to focus on Europe about two years ago, when it realized that automakers there already were launching electric delivery vans and hybrid buses

Brilliance sedan on display at 2009 Detroit Auto Show.

Besides its F3DM, BYD also showed another plug-in hybrid, the F6DM, and the E6, a seven-seat electric van.

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Auto industry is beginning to make needed advances in battery technology to put a first wave of rechargeable electric cars like the Volt on the road.


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