WE APPLIED TWO SCHOOLS OF DISCIPLINE: IMAGINEERING AND ENGINEERING. WE IMAGINED THE FUTURE AND WE ENGINEERED THE WORK.
–Shai Agassi, Founder and CEO, Better Place
Better Place began with the goal of freeing cars from oil, which would simultaneously address the global challenges of rising energy costs, energy security and climate change. Building on the mobile phone subscription model, the company aims to electrify personal transportation with a comprehensive solution for consumers, and is rolling out a network of electric vehicles, charging stations and battery switching stations in Israel, Australia and Denmark.
You can buy a Toyota Camry for about $20,000, and drive it up to 600 miles before refueling at a nearby gas station. Alternatively, you can buy the all-electric Nissan Leaf for about $35,000 (including its $11,000 battery), and drive it up to 100 miles before it needs recharging… well, you’re not sure where.
In short, the current transport system is made for gasoline vehicles. But while most electric vehicle (EV) players are waiting for the vehicle to adapt to the current system (by making batteries cheaper and with longer range), one company is adapting the system to the vehicle – making EVs work for consumers today.
That company is Better Place.
To make EVs more affordable and convenient, Better Place takes out the most expensive part: the battery. Better Place then includes the battery as part of a fixed-price subscription offered to the consumer. Drivers get a personal charge spot at home and/or work, access to a network of charging and switching stations (replacing a depleted battery in less than five minutes) and 24-hour consumer support and roadside assistance for a fee equal to what a consumer would typically spend in a month for gasoline (see subscription plan).
In return for taking ownership of the battery and building an extensive battery charging and switching infrastructure, Better Place makes its profit based on the difference between the high cost per mile for gasoline and the low cost per mile for electricity (see cost per mile graph), and the battery.
In a sense, Better Place is doing for vehicles what telecommunications firms do for mobile phones – develop the network, discount the hardware and charge for minutes – in this case, miles.