Better Place Gets a “Charge” With GE Partnership

better place GE charge spotsGE’s  handsome designer car charging post the Watt Station even “talks” to drivers!

Entrepreneur Shai Agassi’s Better Place electric car battery exchange infrastructure projects will probably get a new “power boost” vi an announced partnership with the American General Electric Company (GE) to develop electric car infrastructures in the USA and other locations, according to  the NY Times. The article reported that GE announced it would be “working with one of the most experienced players in the field, Better Place, with the parties promising to collaborate on technology, battery financing, fleet electrification and consumer awareness.” We love the charge spots designed by Gadi Amit, but worldwide and outside of Israel it looks like Better Place has other plans for how its cars will recharge. 

And they don’t just plug in: Better Place, which has already introduced a test battery exchange network in Tokyo Japan,  has  also done extensive infrastructure preparation work in Israel and in Denmark with battery exchange stations to be set up in both Israel and Denmark sometime during 2011.

GE  announced its Watt Station electric car battery charger system last summer and is impressed with the work that Agassi’s company has done in both its own battery chargers and battery exchange stations;  the latter enable electric drivers to quickly exchange their used up electric car battery pack for a fully charged on in only 3 minutes.

But when a driver is parked for a long time: GE’s Watt Station version was introduced in San Francisco and is designed to “talk” to the driver and instruct him on how to go about recharging the car in 4 to 8 hours, depending on how much a charge is needed.

The speed in which an electric car’s batteries can be sufficiently charged will be an important factor, though; an even Mr. Agassi admits that: “We’re seeing less interest in charging at retail locations where people are going to be spending just 10 or 15 minutes.”

Locations where drivers will be parked for longer periods, such as their work place, places of entertainment like movie theaters, etc, will enable the charging stations to give a more significant charge, including Better Place’s “quick charge” which will give the batteries enough current to take a driver 20 to 30 km or home from work or the mall.

Better Place cars and infrastructure networks have been featured on weekly Car Talk program on the internet Rusty Mike radio station in Jerusalem, Israel.

Car Talk is moderated by Netherlands ex-pat  Joop Soesan, who calls himself The Driving Dutchman. Soesan writes for the Dutch auto magazine Autoweek, and has his own car information website.  Soesan has tested several types of electric and hybrid cars and has twice interviewed Shai Agassi’s brother, Tal, who is involved in setting up the Better Place battery charging and exchange infrastructure network in Israel.

“I believe that Better Place may not win the electric car race; and that batteries with range extenders (such as the Chevrolet Volt) may win out in the end,”  Soesan said. He added that the Chevy Volt, which has both an electric motor and gasoline engine, is more accurately classified as a hybrid, and not a pure electric car.

Whatever the end result, by working together, Better Place and GE should be able to make enough of an impact to have a lasting effect on the types of cars that people drive and even revolutionize a mode of transportation that has been in existence for over 100 years.


More on electric cars and their infrastructure:
Denmark Prepares to (Slowly) Enter the Electric Car Network
Chevrolet Volt vs the Renault-Nissan Better Place Edition
Shai Agassi Goes Canadian With Better Place in Ontario

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