Better Place is working with Nissan/Renault on the production of electric cars with swappable batteries that can be charged at home, or taken to battery-swapping stations where fresh batteries are inserted within minutes. Vehicle owners will rent the batteries from Better Place, and pay only for the miles they drive.
This battery-swapping technology is not yet available commercially, though in 2010 in Tokyo, Better Place ran a pilot program with electrified taxis running on swappable batteries. Better Place founder and CEO Shai Agassi joked that the taxi’s batteries lasted longer than the drivers’ bladders, after only one cab ran out of juice during the program.
“We’ve worked hard over the past four years to engineer and build a technology solution that competes with oil-based transportation,” said Agassi in a statement. “We are entering the next phase of growth for our company where we prove that our solution works, that it’s in demand, and that it scales, as we begin to push into new markets and attract new investors and new partners. I believe that our investors should be applauded for having the vision to finance the future of transportation.”
Better Place has partnered with local governments in Denmark and Israel to build a charging infrastructure to support its brand of electric cars. The company is also rolling out city-wide charging initiatives in Toronto, Hawaii and throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Better Place will provide commercial charging infrastructure for electric car owners of all models, and is in the final testing phases to choose the Renault Fluence Z.E. (Zero Emissions) as its vehicle of choice.
Today’s investment in Better Place raises the company’s total to $750 million, with previous investors Israel Corp., HSBC Group, Morgan Stanley Investment Management, VantagePoint Capital Partners, Ofer Group and Maniv Energy Capital also joining the round.