It’s California or Bust for Better Place’s eTaxis


The Better Place electric transportation company was founded in California’s silicon valley, not far from where the Tesla electric car company began. But while Tesla and Chevy’s Volt electric cars have been sold in the United States, Better Place didn’t enter the fickle US electric car market. Instead they teamed with French automaker Renault and pioneered their subscription model electric cars in Denmark and Israel where border to border coverage didn’t require many battery swap stations. Now Better Place has partnered with California-based Coda Automotive electric car company and engineering company FEV with plans for electric taxis and two battery swap stations in Los Angeles California, eventually expanding to six. This is enough to service 60 electric taxis.

Better Place has certainly been in the news recently. They set an electric car record of 1172 miles in 24 hours with their Renault-made electric cars and robotic battery swap technology. Their lease price in Israel of NIS 1990 a month ($510 USD), for 36 month included enough charged battery swaps to drive 1000 kilometers.

But the company has struggled to go up against the near-monopoly of the internal combustion engine. They may not have the luxury of time to wait for the US market to be ready. Their plans to expand into their home market makes sense.

California led the US in progressive environmentalism and its energy commission recently set aside $3 million for an eTaxi program.

While the compact city of San Francisco is well-served by public transport, Los Angeles is a sprawling city which almost demands a car. But an electric taxi won’t be burning gasoline and adding to Los Angeles’ legendary smog while it is stuck in Los Angeles’s legendary traffic. And battery swap technology is a perfect fit for taxi drivers who stands to lose more than two dollars for each minute they wait for a taxi’s battery to charge.

Better Place certainly faces some risks in entering the US market, but with this risk comes enormous opportunities. The phrase “California or Bust” was once an inspiration “Oakies” who left their drought-stricken Oklahoma farms for a better life in the promised land of California. What better place could there be for Better Place?

Photo of Los Angeles traffic at night from Shutterstock

About Brian Nitz

Brian remembers when a single tear dredged up a nation's guilt. The tear belonged to an Italian-American actor known as Iron-Eyes Cody, the guilt was displaced from centuries of Native American mistreatment and redirected into a new environmental awareness. A 10-year-old Brian wondered, 'What are they... No, what are we doing to this country?' From a family of engineers, farmers and tinkerers Brian's father was a physics teacher. He remembers the day his father drove up to watch a coal power plant's new scrubbers turn smoke from dirty grey-back to steamy white. Surely technology would solve every problem. But then he noticed that breathing was difficult when the wind blew a certain way. While sailing, he often saw a yellow-brown line on the horizon. The stars were beginning to disappear. Gas mileage peaked when Reagan was still president. Solar panels installed in the 1970s were torn from roofs as they were no longer cost-effective to maintain. Racism, public policy and low oil prices transformed suburban life and cities began to sprawl out and absorb farmland. Brian only began to understand the root causes of "doughnut cities" when he moved to Ireland in 2001 and watched history repeat itself. Brian doesn't think environmentalism is 'rocket science', but understanding how to apply it within a society requires wisdom and education. In his travels through Europe, North America, Asia and the Middle East, Brian has learned that great ideas come from everywhere and that sharing mistakes is just as important as sharing ideas.

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