Hawaii has just invested $2.6 million in stimulus funds in a public private partnership in electric vehicle infrastructure planned since 2008 to help jump start the adoption of electric vehicles. Better Place, with $854,000, and Aerovironment with $820,000 were the leaders among six road-ready electric vehicle innovators to receive a share of the funding.
Before electric cars are widely adopted, some way of charging them on the go is needed. Better Place will use its $854,000 to help support the introduction of EVs to a rental car fleet with the installation of the charging stations that will be needed to do just that.
Better Place began the initial deployment of its Hawaii presence with two vehicles that will be operated by Kyo-ya Hotel & Resorts’ Sheraton Waikiki Resort and five that will be owned by Hawaii Electric and a maintenance facility to be set up at the Hawaii Center for Advanced Transportation Technologies, along with charging infrastructure.
Only commercially available technologies are being funded. These stimulus funds are not an investment in the “science project” stage of innovation. Hawaii’s public private partnership in deploying electric vehicles has been carefully and thoroughly researched and planned since its announcement in 2008. Like Better Place, all of the six companies invited, while visionary pioneers, are now commercially viable with proven technologies.
For example, Better Place proved the efficacy of its pioneering battery switching technology in Japan in 2009. It gets the battery switching time down to less than a minute, making electric cars faster than gasoline cars at re-juicing.
Better Place has been the only electric vehicle infrastructure company to propose public robotic battery switching stations to provide range extension for journeys longer than the typical urban under-40 mile daily commute. But radical solutions sometimes raise fears of monopolies, reasonable or not. The others have developed public fast charge stations as the long-distance alternative to the slower nightly recharge at home.
But hedging its bet on battery switching – which can be seen as dependent on widespread cooperation among auto manufacturers in battery type and placement – Better Place also makes charging stations available as public pole-mounted or wall-mounted chargers as well as its smaller home garage chargers.
Last winter, its 60 charging poles installed throughout Copenhagen came through the worst winter in 14 years, providing the best testing grounds possible for a system “designed on the Equator to be tested in Arctic conditions”.