Sunday, December 5, 2010

Project Better Place, Exposed.

A comment on another blog inspired me to rant about PBP again so I'm expanding on that here.  I'm so tired of Shai Agassi and his Project Better Place and have been working on debunking the myth ever since I became aware of it.  Much like the hydrogen boondoggle he just won't go away.  His concept is twofold, first he want's to treat charging your car similar to cell phone minutes, and secondly he want's to create a network of swap stations to quickly change out batteries.  Here's why he's wrong, and why his plan will only make owning an EV more expensive.
A swappable battery pack that aligns perfectly every time and makes tight high power connections every time means added engineering and expense in an EV and limits design flexibility.  Getting automakers to agree on a standard pack size, shape, voltage, and management is frankly impossible.  Different battery chemistries have different characteristics, different vehicles will have different sizes and shapes, power demands, it's impossible.  Just try using a different brand battery in your cordless drill.  Swap stations are complex and costly.  Every EV will need spare batteries stashed at various places in case they might need them, how do you predict how many and where to put them?  With the most expensive EV component being the battery, how does building a stockpile of extra packs lower the costs?  BP is not going to absorb those costs, they will be pushed onto the EV owner.  Since most charging will be done at night, at home, at reduced rates, why go through all this for the 1% of the time you might need it?  Especially when fast charge stations can do the same thing more easily.
Charging minutes.
PBP is not an electricity provider, not an EV builder, and not a battery maker.  So why do I want to pay them extra for services that others already provide?  One benefit of an EV is charging at home cheaply, especially at night rates, why create a system that makes that more expensive?
PBP is pushing their business model in small countries such as Israel and small islands such as Hawaii.  This is amazing as batteries already allow you to travel their entire length on a single charge!  Why do I need to swap my battery, or pay extra for the privilege of using PBP chargers, when my pack isn't empty?  As I posted this morning on Jack Rickard's blog, EVTV, PBP is nothing more than an overpriced shell game.  Don't buy into the hype.
Others have concerns with the idea as well:  BP Critique


  1. If you don't like the idea, don't buy a Better Place EV - it's a free world. However, I DO like the idea - makes perfect sense to me.

    1. I too Chris, think it is about the offered services. Many folks like the idea of not getting stuck with a 10 grand battery that goes out of date the day you buy it. The BP plan is not limited to old technology, but takes full advantage of new developments and can make it available to subscribers quicker.

      Remember the cell phone model. You will get cutting edge technology and incredibly low prices, and service anywhere [in time]. Darn monopoly!:)
      I'll bet you own a cell phone too JP!

    2. The idea is miserable. Battery packs don't have to be replaced in whole, they can be upgraded cell by cell. The cost of a new battery is rough for a manufacturer but the maintenance and upkeep is minimal for an owner.

      The comparison to cell phones is designed for the low information investor class. PBP/BP isn't providing minutes or any infrastructure except storing batteries. You constantly will be paying for miles at an inflated cost to lower your "scary" cost on the backside of 200k miles for battery maintenance. This is stupid for the consumer but low information investors see lots of opportunity for graft.

      Of course in Israel BP has a monopoly on charging stations. This means that every Israeli I will speak to about EVs will be spouting BP crap at me. This is sad.

  2. Obviously I won't buy one. I would like to know what about the concept makes sense to you.

  3. Thanks, J.P. for being so honest. Personally, I cannot envision anyone buying a Bigger Profits EV as It looks to me like a leasing fleet who is demanding you pay by the mile for using their equipment as well as paying an initial investment in a specially modified vehicle and thus limiting all the options to them. Then asking a fee to recharge the battery at their rate and inclusive in that is replacement and maintenance and a residual profit that reminds me of the profits in Home Alarm Systems. In Home alarms they give you free basic system but if you have two doors there is an extra chargr and if you have windows there is an extra charge for each one, and it continues; every month you pay $35 to $100 to have someone answer the phone in a central office (Central - only one they have) and dial the phone number to your local fire or police agency when your alarm is triggered. A friend of mine installed 250 alarms in homes and sold the monitoring contracts for $100,000 and semi-retired.
    Anyway, it makes no darn sense to me either.

  4. Apart from Israel, they're also looking to deploy their charge spots and swap stations in Australia and California - not such little places.

  5. Yes I expect them to fail there as well.

  6. you are not smart enough to see the whole picture.

  7. Care to try and enlighten me? I'd say the big picture is that swapping is unnecessary, makes EV's more expensive, and serves no purpose other than to generate profits for BP. Same with their "charge minutes" concept.

  8. Infrastructure will be a constant need. BetterPlace in working to be in the position to meet that need. If PBP doesn't meet that need, they won't survive.

    People want more miles, and PBP has the foresight to meet that need. Also technology will change and that will present new alternatives. Today we have battery's that require power available to charge quickly, and of course you can always slow charge at home, and of course battery durability and cost will be a major factor in purchasing a BEV. Buying a battery is like buying a lifetime supply of ink with a shelf life for your printer. Most consumers may not want that expense up front and would gladly pay more for warranty and reliability over time. Batteries not included makes the cars more economical to purchase. And if you want to travel, swapping is fast if you want instant miles. But of course you can always use your fuel powered range extender...

    Imagine if you didn't have the gas station, but a tank at home so you could store cheaper fuel. In time, I suspect you would not consider the cost of fuel storage worth more than the convenience of the fuel station. Consider natural gas compressors at home...that expensive idea didn't last long!

    Tomorrow supercaps may replace batteries. Who knows what needs will be in the future? But for the interim, we have a need to get miles to the consumer to make the BEV a dependable standard. Betterplace is unique in its vision to provide the miles. The need to provide miles for the BEV is not going away. Someone has to provide the infrastructure for the BEV, be it home based and/or on the road.

    Today battery swapping can provide the miles. Tomorrow, high current quick charges and interface standard may sufficiently meet the need. Regardless how it happens, the game is to get the miles to the consumer who wants them when he wants them. Today, quick easy miles is the primary concern of the potential BEV buyer.

    Battery swapping will likely not be needed for long, but you will always need the 'quick charge' to extend range. The technology to provide the quick charge must be developed and deployed. PBP has the business plan to provide unlimited miles to the consumer today, and tomorrow.

    And lets not forget, the last cost will be the Tax Man. You know he will be a player soon, and that will be a unwelcome neverending conversation if we have only home charging...

    Infrastructure must be built. BetterPlace is the primary player today. PBP is setting the standard by working to give the BEV buyer what they want, MILES on DEMAND. Tomorrow, the delivery options will be different for sure, but the consumers desire for miles will remain, and only those who meet that need will survive.

  9. Batteries not included gives a false sense of economy. Those batteries do have to be paid for, and long term leasing always costs more than owning. People think they need more miles but in reality since the average daily trip is less than 40 miles they obviously do not. BP is an expensive attempt to solve a problem that doesn't really exist. Early EV buyers are quite aware of the range involved and obviously don't need more than is being provided. The fast charge infrastructure is being rolled out quickly and by the time there are actually enough EV's to take advantage of those chargers they will be in place in large numbers. You talk of the "convenience" of gas stations when most people see them as a hassle to be avoided, especially as prices increase. Ask yourself how often you'd stop at a gas station if your tank was filled more cheaply at home every day.
    The technology is changing too quickly to make any attempt at pack standardization possible let alone desirable. Once we get near 200 mile packs that are affordable with a network of chargers range basically ceases to be any sort of an issue. Worth noting that Ford, Nissan, and Tesla are not using BP compatible packs. As fuel prices climb "miles on demand" will be less important than "affordable miles for daily use". Too much importance is put on long trips that are rarely taken and often not really necessary when they are.
    I talk to hundreds of EV drivers and I'm not aware of any of us who are interested in pack swapping or paying BP a higher price to charge at their stations.

  10. Just to be clear, fast charging stations are being installed without BP's involvement, they don't have any sort of dominance in that market.

  11. I haven't heard whether BP has put a price tag on their service yet, but I see use in battery swap possibilties. The question remains: Price!

  12. There is no question about price. BP does not have a cheaper way to make batteries, which means the batteries will cost the same. Then you have to add in the extra expense of designing and building a pack that can be quick swapped hundreds of times while making tight high power connection over and over. Then add in the cost of the swap stations and a stockpile of extra batteries. Then add in BP's profits since they are not a charity. Where in that equation are the cost savings to be found? It's simply not possible to make a process more complex and add another layer of profit while lowering the price.

  13. you a bit of an idiot arn't you really, you clearly haven't read the website properly have you? hot swapping batteries are only there for when you really need them, and the company will actually start paying the consumer if they end up swapping more than they are supposed to. hence why they are also installing charging stations. there are clearly going to be times when the consumer wil need to hot swap so it is a good idea to have a system in place that can do this, its called offering a complete business model and addressing a problem which clearly exists. it still remains a fact that the quickest fast charge is 30 minutes and even then thats not for a full charge. people will not want to wait 30 plus minutes, especially when charging stations have a limited amount of space and can only hold so many vehicals. what credentials do you possess to look at a business model and say with such conviction it will or will not work?

  14. Right, so they are going to develop a complex and expensive battery swap system, get manufacturers to build cars that comply with that system, roll out a nation wide network of those stations, stocked with extra batteries sitting around, that will rarely be used. You think that sounds like a profitable undertaking? Who's the idiot?
    There are already fast charging stations being deployed that don't require you to buy into the BP plan. Fast charging can be done faster than 30 minutes, Altairnano has demonstrated it already, as batteries improve others will be able to do the same. That's the point, battery technology is already past the point where swapping makes any sense at all. I'm sorry you're such a BP fan boy you haven't taken a critical look at what they propose. It's expensive and unnecessary, therefor likely to fail.

  15. Nothing will kill batteries faster than fast charging them
    Would you like to sit in a car while a two megawwatt electricity live wire at 400 volt direct current is being connected? And who will hold in his tender little hand such a mighty wand.? And how ill the battery be cooled while two megawatts are being poured in while you are sitting sipping your coffee.
    And the real question is why assume Agassi, a self- made multi-millionaire at under thirty, an engineer with a degree from one of the world's formost engineering institutions the technion who was the CEO designate of SAP, is an idiot? To say nothing of the corporate investors who place 1300 million dollars with him? and the Japanese government? And the Chinese secong largest car manufacturer? As for standardization, well they are working on it with EASTBAT, a consortium formed for exactly that purpose
    As for 2 megawwat. If you need to place 25 KWH into a battery within an hour, its a 25 KW line. Multiply by 60 for a one minute fill-up and you have a 1500 KW line. it takes 59.1 seconds to exchange a BP battery in Japan.

  16. Fast charging will be a rare occurrence since 99% of the time it's not needed. Which is why designing a pack that can quick swap and building the infrastructure of swap stations to do it makes little sense for something that will rarely be used. Do you think gas stations would survive for long if people could fill their tanks at home for a lot less money?
    High powered charging cords won't be energized until they are plugged in, no one will be handling anything dangerous. Induction charging is also an option where there are no physical connections, which can also allow charging as you drive, which would be even faster and more convenient than pack swapping since you wouldn't need to stop at all. There are simply better options than BP pack swapping. I don't think Agassi is an idiot, he is simply locked onto a concept that has little practical merit beyond increasing the size of his bank account.

  17. I agree the pricing isn't in BP's favor. So it mostly comes down to whether the segment of car buyers who want an electric-only car will prefer BP's 5-minute switch to 30-minute fast charge on the few occasions they need it. I don't believe anyone really knows.

    Dr. Yuval, no new car makers or car component companies have joined the European EASYBAT consortium; Renault, BP, and Continental have been working together since 2009.

  18. More accurate to say will they want to pay the premium for the swap over the fast charge. All things being equal I'd prefer a 5 minute swap to a 30 minute charge, but I don't want all the baggage that comes along with the swap. Additionally the fast charge will be more readily available sooner than the swap since that's much easier to implement. If pack swapping stations aren't everywhere they fail to deliver on their promise of unfettered travel. I'm afraid the reality is they will effectively be nowhere for a long time. Since I think the whole concept is flawed I don't think they'll ever be available in sufficient numbers to make it viable. This is a classic chicken and the egg situation except neither the chicken or the egg is actually needed.

  19. Dear JP,

    Kindly read the following.

    Also please note the following video:

    How much Better Place electric cars will cost? Fast forward to 24m:57s.
    Entire US filled with 10,000 Battery Switch Stations in 3 months 27m:03s.

    Israel in 9 months will be able to swap batteries in 59.1 seconds as 56 BSS's will be online.

    Better Place is currently the ONLY way that electric cars will finally replace gasoline cars all over the world. Better Place will be successful.. already they got $700 million investment and sold 70,000 Better Place electric cars. Deutsche Bank analysts issued a glowing report stating that the company's approach could be a "paradigm shift" that causes "massive disruption" to the auto industry, and which has "the potential to eliminate the gasoline engine altogether."

    1) Price: Better Place will sell their electric cars (Renault Fluence Z.E.) at least $5,000 less than the average price of gasoline cars that are sold in the US. Also as batteries improve in range and get cheaper this will result with Better Place selling brand new electric cars cheaper and cheaper over time to reach the prices of used cars.

    2) Range: Better Place electric cars will have an unlimited driving range where Battery Switch Stations are deployed. A battery swap of a 100 mile battery takes only 59.1 seconds and the driver stays in the car during the swap. Better Place has battery station installation teams that can install one battery switch station in just 2 days, one every 25 miles in every route. Battery Switch Stations can serve any kind of battery swappable cars, and a Battery Switch Stations with only 15 batteries has the ability to swap batteries for 2,500 electric cars. A Battery Switch Station operated in Japan for more than 3 months 24/7 for three Tokyo taxis with no problems whatsoever. All of California can be covered with Battery Switch Stations, see the map at:
    Also noteworthy is that the Battery Switch Stations use the same technology to swap batteries that the F-16 jet fighter aircraft use to load their bombs.

    3) Battery : Better Place customers do not own the battery in the car so they will never have to pay for the battery, battery life, degradation, warranty issues, maintenance, capital cost, quality, and technology or anything related to the battery. All battery costs burden only Better Place.

    4) Billing: Better Place customers will only have one monthly bill that will include unlimited access to the Better Place network of public charge spots and battery switch stations, electricity usage, personalized energy management and navigation services via in-car and network software, an inventory of batteries with a guaranteed service level agreement, 24-hour access to customer service and support, and a private charge spot.
    This bill will be around what you pay today for gasoline every month.

  20. 5) Mass EV charging: The charging grid of Better Place will be computer controlled so that it will not overload the host country's electricity grid with hundreds of thousands of Better Place electric cars charging at the same time.

    6) Used Better Place electric cars retain their resale value because they are sold without the battery. With the performance of batteries improving so quickly, how many second-hand users would buy an electric car with last year's battery inside? The second owner/subscriber of a Better Place electric car will receive the latest battery packs from Better Place.

    7) Better place will be the first to offer 100% clean true zero emissions electric cars with all the cycle of all electricity production 100% renewable from wind (Denmark) and solar (Israel).

    8) With $8 Billion the company Better Place can make the US an oil free country saving the US more than $360 Billion a year and the financial devastation of an oil controlled US economy.
    (Oil price shocks and price manipulation by OPEC at 2004-2008 cost the US $1.9 trillion.. )
    Also the whole Better Place network can be deployed in any country at the cost of 7 days of oil in that country.

    Electric cars with a price higher than gasoline cars (Volt, Leaf) ) will only be bought by 1-2% of car drivers worldwide over 10 years. That's the case with the Prius, in 13 years, it captured less than 2% of the worldwide car market even though they are only $4,000 more expensive than gasoline cars. The Renault Fluence Z.E. is a very beautiful car, hopefully Better Place will be selling that one in California. By the end of 2011 Better Place electric cars will be sold with all required infrastructure (including 56 Battery Switch Stations) in place.

    Again.. Better Place electric cars will be cheaper than gasoline cars so they will FLOOD the auto-market. As a proof of that, Better Place has already sold 70,000 of them in Israel!!. With this exponential rate of sales by 2015 Better Place will be selling 50% of all cars in Israel and by 2020 90% of all cars sold in Israel will be Better Place electric cars. Other automakers will see this rate of sales and will join Better Place as their Battery Switch Stations can serve any kind of battery swappable cars, moreover..

    ..As the world realizes that Israel in just a few years will reach oil Independence at the cost of 7 days of oil, country after country will sign up with Better Place bringing about the end of the gasoline car and the oil age.

    Wikipedia (Detailed research with all relevant web links)

    Financial times article about Better Place:


  21. Everything you state is pure speculation, including BP's press releases, and still misses the entire point. Charging your car at the same price as refilling with gasoline is not an attractive concept, neither is being locked into a gas station paradigm. Even if BP actually does install 10,000 swap stations, which I doubt, there are over 100,000 gas stations in the US. That means that those 10K swap stations will not cover enough of the country to actually allow their promise of endless travel to happen. Additionally EV's allow us to break free of a monolithic refueling system controlled by large corporations, BP continues that system. The cars may be sold at artificially lower prices but the consumer will have to pay for that F16 swap technology and all those swap stations and extra batteries so long term owner ship will be higher, it has to be. BP will not bear any costs, the customer will have to pay for all costs,including BP's profits. This is so basic yet so few seem to realize it, BP is NOT a charity. BP is smoke and mirrors, distracting people with low upfront costs with a promise of unlimited travel while locking them into higher long term prices. Similar to a drug dealer giving you a free sample to get you hooked for life. Who cares if Israel can swap in 1 minute when you can drive the entire length of the country on a single charge with a 100 mile EV? If the average daily trip in the US is less than 40 miles it's probably less than half that in Israel. A 50 mile EV with a few fast charge locations would be much cheaper for Israel in the long run than the BP plan. Unfortunately people are so enamored with the idea of "fast swap" that they are blind to the reality of their actual needs. EV's, and even gas cars, don't NEED to travel hundreds of miles on a whim. That was simply a side effect of cheap abundant oil. Those days are gone. Trying to impose our habits from a time that no longer exists is a fools game. All the time and money being wasted on BP should have been put into building more efficient vehicles like the Solectria Sunrise that would allow us to get twice the range from existing batteries. That plus a network of fast charge stations would easily take care of most driving needs as batteries continue to improve. EV's cannot be built fast enough at this point to worry about the people who won't buy them unless they can go 200 miles or more. There are millions who can and will buy EV's even with 100 miles or so of range. Until we have unsold EV's sitting around because they don't go far enough range is not really an issue, and BP is an expensive "solution" to a problem that doesn't really exist.

  22. So what's the alternative?

    The Leaf $32,780?
    The Volt $41,000?

    Unless EV's price falls to below the

    Honda Civic at $15,805 or
    Toyota Corolla at $15,600

    almost no one will be interested (1-2% worldwide for me is like nothing)

    Better Place already announced the price of the Renault Fluence Z.E.
    at 205,000 Danish Kroner..

    ..costs LESS than a
    5-door Honda Civic
    at 219 900 Danish Kroner
    and around the price of a
    Jazz 1.4 Comfort i-Shift
    so its like you pay for
    a small bubble car
    and you get a big sedan.

    Electric cars with a price higher than gasoline cars like the Volt and the Leaf will only be bought by 1-2% of car drivers worldwide over 10 years.

    That's the case with the Prius, in 13 years, it captured less than 2% of the worldwide car market even though they are only ~$4,000 more expensive than gasoline cars.

    [url=]Better Place CEO: Biggest obstacle to electric cars is auto industry 'scepticism' | EurActiv[/url]

    ..The (Toyota hybrid) Prius was about €3,000 more expensive than the Corolla. That €3,000 meant that even though it was extremely successful perception-wise, it was less than 2% of the cars sold for the 13 years it was on the market. Only €3,000 more expensive. Why wouldn't it sell more, given that we all want to save the planet?

    Make an electric car €3,000 cheaper than a gasoline car, you'll see the exact opposite effect.

    Consumers don't care about the environment, economy or even a monopoly with BP.. if you offer them an electric car cheaper than $15000 and tell them they will only pay one monthly bill that's what they are now paying for gas with unlimited range, they will sign in en-mass.

    Proof? the 70000 cars BP already sold
    and the Denmark Renault Fluence Z.E.
    cheaper than a Denmark Honda Civic.


  23. EV's don't need to be cheaper than a gas car to sell. The LEAF is already sold out, they can't make them fast enough to keep up with demand. This idea that EV's need to be cheaper than gas cars is completely unfounded, people pay more for something that is better. If you can live with the range, which most people can, an EV is better than a gas car, and cheaper to operate. The average purchase price of a car in the US for 2009 was over $28K, why would EV's need to cost far less than that?
    BP doesn't make EV's cheaper, it lowers the upfront costs while increasing the operating costs. Over time you end up paying more. BP can't exist without making a profit and they can't make a profit without making EV's cost more over time. It's simple economics. Even Renault realizes it doesn't make economic sense:
    I'd also like to see an independent source that shows 70,000 BP cars have been sold, not some press release saying they've been ordered.

  24. So much for those 70,000 vehciles that supposedly have been sold:

    "Just over a year has passed since these statements made air, and in typical Israeli fashion – most of the goals were not met. Despite promising to begin delivery of cars in the beginning of 2011, Better Place has not sold a single car over the four months that passed since New Year’s Eve. And the number of battery switch stations built in Israel was – you guessed it – exactly zero. Until now."

    "Despite already announcing its pricing schemes in Denmark in the beginning of this month, Better Place refuses to reveal Israeli prices at this time. An internal Better Place memo which leaked to the Israeli press, however, sets the price of the Renault Fluence Z.E at 123,000 NIS, or about $34,500."

    What happened to that EV cheaper than a Civic?


    Here is a PBP competitor. NRG will sell a $89 per month dollar 3yr. contract to provide charging points in the DFW metro. They also provide the home charge setup... Battery swaps or charge points, the point is someone has to build, offer and maintain the services, and must not be the GOV. I think the cell phone model Shai promotes will win out, and here is one example of it being applied. Question is will PBP be the leader in the America's? I am not sure of their local influence, but PBP did partner with GE to build charge points... The wave is beginning to break!

  26. More charge points are a good thing, and for some people the subscription model may work, but the reality is that most people will charge cheaply at home and rarely need to use a charge point, so I don't see the subscription model catching on. 40 miles a day for a month should cost about $30 charging at home at 10 cents kwh, why pay three times that for a subscription? Charge points should be set up on a pay for use basis so anyone who needs them can use them, and some smart businesses may provide free charging. That would be cheap promotion for the business and motivate people to spend more time in their establishment. As for the GOV being involved I'd say rest stops on interstates are the perfect place for the government to install charge points.

  27. This comment has been removed by the author.

  28. I mostly agree JP, but add the reality that some prefer the extra security that comes with a subscription will continue to be a dominant factor, and the market will decide that. I also think in time the regulators will increase the cost of electric usage via taxation at some point. Right now you receive no regulation on electric energy for transportation, so consider the CREDIT incentive now, but it too will go away in time.

  29. Thing is there will have to be cost incentive for people to charge off peak, otherwise the grid will suffer and increase costs for utilities. Because of this I don't see how they can realistically raise the costs for off peak charging, which is when most people will charge. In any case if the cost of electricity rises then so will the costs of these subscription services. All they really do is repackage an existing product provided by someone else.

  30. The battery switching concept is excellent -- essential to widespread adoption of EVs and plug-in hybrids. Better Place cars are just something to demonstrate the concept.

    I agree there are difficulties building the standards and getting major manufacturers to agree to use them. It will take some time and effort, but it can be done.

    The main benefit of switching is load leveling on the grid. Mass conversion from gasoline to EVs has very large implications for the grid.

    For example, in California, we have to meet a 4pm peak in the summer. It is very expensive to provide additional power at peak. Done right -- with battery switching -- EVs will not add to peak strain. Done wrong, EVs will cause a large cost increase.

    Switching stations will be a major infrastructure investment, but gas stations have to change anyway. Gasoline is going away no matter what, and we have to invest to make the change happen without great disruption.

    I think EVs can be sold without batteries included. There is no reason an EV owner needs to own the battery pack. Battery pack rental makes more sense. If someone wants to own the battery pack -- for spiritual joy or whatever -- they should still be able to do that. You should still be able to charge the battery yourself.

    The switching station should serve as a broker between the battery owner and the driver. After the battery is switched, the station would generate a bill based on

    1) Health of the battery
    2) Length of the rental
    3) Charge level

    of the battery removed. The money paid by the driver would be sent to the battery owner (who could be anyone). The rental would be discounted based on battery health. For example, if a six hundred pound battery pack has the same capacity as a new 300 pound battery pack, an appropriate "dead weight" discount would be applied. When a battery falls below an established threshold for usable batteries, it would be sent for recycling.

  31. I've pretty much gone over every aspect of the concept and why it's not necessary and not cost effective so I'll just touch on a few points again. Swapping is certainly not essential at all. Most charging will be done at night, off peak, at reduced rates. Because of this millions of EV's can be plugged into the grid with no ill effects at all. Fast charging demands can be buffered by using dump charging from stationary packs, which can be cheaper than EV packs since energy density is not important. Cars plugged in during the day can sell a portion of their capacity to smooth out peak demands from the grid.
    Since BP does not make cars, batteries, or generate electricity, adding them into the mix can only make the whole process more expensive, since all their expenses need to be covered, as well as their profits. Replacing the monopoly of gas stations with a monopoly of swap stations can hardly be considered progress. I want no part of it.

  32. Thanks JP

    Reading through your comments it seems (to me) that regardless of your understanding of Better Place, you will always be against the program.
    This position you take is great. Its your choice.

    Give me a solution where I can buy an EV without owning one expensive battery that is fast coming obsolete?

    I don't want to pay upfront for my Tesla Panasonic cells that have such a low cycle life.

    I don't want to buy thousands of dollars of CALB cells or Thundersky cells for my conversion. They are constantly being significantly improved. (looking forward to Winstons Lithium Sulfur cells).

    So I win.
    I buy a Renault/Nissan on a plan that cost me the same (or less) than petrol.
    The car cost the same (or less) than an ICE.
    And Shai Agassi will be remembered for applying a little smarts to get oil out of our cars.

    -"Z.E at 123,000 NIS, or about $34,500."

    What happened to that EV cheaper than a Civic?"

    I'll tell you JP, A Honda Civic in Israel costs 134,000 NIS, The 5 door starts at 135,000 NIS.

  33. Your basic premise is flawed. The batteries in EV's don't become obsolete, they continue to power the vehicle as designed. When they finally do wear out and don't give you the range you expect you can replace them with the latest technology. Of course they will still probably have decent capacity for secondary usage such as backup storage, you can either use them for that or sell them to someone who will. People who lease batteries from BP don't get that secondary value.
    BP simply hides your true cost by offering a slightly lower purchase price, which an ICE already does, and locks you into a higher operating cost, which an ICE already does. As I keep saying the consumer will have to pay for BP's operating expenses and profits. They don't magically make EV's cheaper since they don't actually make cars, batteries, or generate electricity. If you want to delude yourself into thinking you're getting a deal because you purchase price is lower that's your choice, millions do it all the time, and end up paying more in the long run.

  34. Thanks for replying JP.

    My cassette player has been made obsolete, even it still continues to make the sound as designed. No one wants it.

    What happened to that EV cheaper than a Civic?

    My basic premise is not flawed.

    I don't know if I am up to de-bunking your hurdles. As a business plan it makes sense - Evidence - they have raised more money in the last two years than my plan and your fantastic ideas put together. (Unless your name is Elon Musk).

    I accept I am not smarter than Shai Agassi or the venture capitalists that have looked into this more than us together.
    Shai has the runs on the board. I don't and I don't know your position.

    What is the one defining thing JP, that you can share with me that this ain't a good deal for you, me and everyone else.

    Thanks for your time in this discussion.

  35. Sorry JP,

    Can you give me your view as a consumer and also as an investor.


  36. Honestly, I have written extensively on the subject and clearly laid out why I think it's not necessary, not realistic, and not a good investment. Millions of investors have lost trillions of dollars on bad investments, so simply saying that if someone invested money in it then it must be a good idea is patently false.
    To quickly summarize what I have already written:
    Swapping isn't necessary, especially in smaller countries.
    Swapping is not practical or scalable in larger countries, and also not necessary.
    Batteries are still improving and pack sizes, shapes, and chemistry will be too varied to standardize at this time.
    BP can only add cost to an EV, not reduce cost, since they have expenses and expect a profit yet don't actually produce vehicles, batteries, or generate power.
    BP locks you into a monolithic fuel structure, just as gas stations do.
    Most charging will be done at home, at night, at reduced rates, which goes back to the fact that swapping is unnecessary.
    There are other more practical and cost effective solutions to longer trips, including fast charging, plug in hybrids, rent-able genset trailers, and vehicle rental, plus the fact that most households have more than one vehicle.
    Until we have EV's sitting unsold at dealer lots because they won't go far enough the range issue doesn't really exist. Since at this point EV builders can't even keep up with demand it's obviously not an actual problem.
    Finally, that EV is not cheaper than a Civic, it's just cost deferred since you will have to pay for the battery over time, plus pay for BP's expenses and profits, or they will go out of business. Leasing and renting always cost more over time than owning, it will be no different with BP.

  37. As to your cassette player, it's the wrong analogy, because cassettes are incompatible with cds, but batteries will always hold electricity. Here's a better analogy, my nearly 5 year old MP3 player has 8 Gig of storage, newer ones hold much more, but mine still plays all my MP3's, every day. Also, the lithium battery is still going strong.

  38. Thanks JP for the summary of many reasons you believe BP is a scam, sold by a snake oil salesman.

    Looking over your 9 points I may be right in that you might not understand a couple of important aspects of BP.

    The following is from the view of a consumer.

    Point 1
    -"Swapping isn't necessary, especially in smaller countries"

    Not a consumer issue.

    Point 2
    -"Swapping is not practical or scalable in larger countries, and also not necessary"

    Its very practical if you want to drive beyond the range of your EV. BP will make sure this is more convenient than filling your ICE.

    Point 3
    -"Batteries are still improving and pack sizes, shapes, and chemistry will be too varied to standardize at this time"

    All the more reason to not own a pack.

    Point 4
    -"BP can only add cost to an EV, not reduce cost, since they have expenses and expect a profit yet don't actually produce vehicles, batteries, or generate power"

    Is there a margin in business? Yes.
    Im not sure if Shai is worried about start-up profit.
    Shai has explained in very simple terms.
    Two trends. These trends are the reason BP can make lots of money. Do you understand the two?

    Point 5
    -"BP locks you into a monolithic fuel structure, just as gas stations do"

    You can look at this argument two ways.
    1, Your screwed either way.
    2, You choose your rate. You keep it. Later down the track its always going to be more expensive because it is comparative to gas prices.

    Point 6
    -"Most charging will be done at home, at night, at reduced rates, which goes back to the fact that swapping is unnecessary"


    Point 7
    -"There are other more practical and cost effective solutions to longer trips, including fast charging, plug in hybrids, rent-able genset trailers, and vehicle rental, plus the fact that most households have more than one vehicle"

    Yes, as Shai says "The other car". I imagine BP's focus is the 90% of miles not the 90% people.

    Point 8
    -"Until we have EV's sitting unsold at dealer lots because they won't go far enough the range issue doesn't really exist. Since at this point EV builders can't even keep up with demand it's obviously not an actual problem"

    Nothing to say to this point

    Point 9
    -"Finally, that EV is not cheaper than a Civic, it's just cost deferred since you will have to pay for the battery over time, plus pay for BP's expenses and profits, or they will go out of business. Leasing and renting always cost more over time than owning, it will be no different with BP."

    I showed you the price, it is cheaper.
    You buy a Civic, you sign a contract for oil.
    Is that classed as a "costs deferred".

    I hope you gave me your best 9 points.

    Thanks again JP for the effort in this discussion.

  39. Point 1 is a consumer issue. The cost of the swappable pack, extra batteries stashed all over the place waiting to be used, and the cost of building the swapping stations, will be paid for by the consumer, whether or not they ever use them. BP is not a charity.

    Point 2 Building out a swapping infrastructure that covers a large country such as the US will take a long long time and a huge investment. Until it is actually built to cover the whole country then the swapping cannot work as promised since you can easily drive out of an area with a swap station. Swapping promises unlimited travel with short refill times, (both unnecessary of course), and if it can't deliver as promised it fails. Since it doesn't exist and can't for years automakers are not supporting the design, they have no reason to.

    Point 3 Improving and changing battery technology may very well mean that your vehicle which has been specifically designed with the extremely close tolerances required for a swappable pack may not even be able to use a new chemistry. I doubt a liquid cooled and heated pack will work with a swappable pack, so you can't use Tesla's batteries, which are the highest in energy density at this point. You also assume that BP will offer a different technology to you, it may not be in their best financial interest to upgrade you, and since you are locked into doing it their way you don't have any options.

    Point 4 You really didn't address this point. BP has to make EV's more expensive since not only do they do nothing to lower production costs they actually raise production costs by adding the complexity of a swappable pack, and they raise the cost of recharging the vehicle during it's lifetime.

    Point 5 You're not screwed if you don't buy into BP's model and charge at home cheaply at night, or from your own solar panels, wind power, or hydro. Electricity can be generated in so many different ways there are many options for recharging, unless you lock yourself into the BP model.

    Point 6 I guess you agree, which means that all the swapping infrastructure and high BP charge rates can be avoided by people who don't own BP EV's.

    Point 7 90% of the miles can already be handled by existing EV's without swapping and without being locked into the overpriced charging that BP provides.

    Point 8 As stated.

    Point 9 A few problems. A "leaked" unofficial price doesn't mean much until people actually start buying. With all the backing and support BP is getting it's quite likely they are selling at a loss, which means it's not sustainable. Without knowing the price of gas in Israel and the typical miles driven it's hard to compare lifetime costs. Finally, the Civic is only one specific vehicle, I could pick another that costs less, so even if this first iteration of a BP car happens to cost less than a Civic in the long run that still doesn't mean the business model is in anyway sound.

    The bottom line is that if you compare two EV's, one built for BP and one built without a swappable pack, the second will be cheaper. Then during their lifetime the second EV will also charge at a much lower cost than the BP car. Obviously BP has to make EV's more expensive, needlessly so. You can't take a more complex vehicle, pay for an expensive swapping infrastructure and extra battery packs, charge more for refueling, and then claim you're saving me money. It simply doesn't happen.

  40. Convenience is a premium. A very large Chinese company seems to believe in PBP.

    Better Place signs deal in China; State Grid wants 2,300 swap stations installed by 2015

  41. Translation, BP will build a single demonstration swap station, and as of yet there are no vehicles in China that can use it. China also has another company, Kandi, that has already built some swap stations, and has it's own vehicles, which are not compatible with BP's system.

  42. The argument of Better Place rests in the actual cost of the battery per kWh for what they are charging.

    At around $800 / kWh for a battery with 24 kWh of capacity this is ($800 / kWh) * (24 kWh) = $19,200.00.

    With an expected battery life of 7-years, this works out to (7-years) * (12-months / year) = 84 months.
    ($19,200) / (84-months) = $228.57 per month.

    Therefore, assuming (notice I said assuming) that the cost per kWh is $800, then the cost per month would be $228.57.

    (However, there are too many internet sources strongly suggesting that the cost per kWh is much lower than $800 / kWh.)

    Someone who drives about 24,000 km per year will drive a total of (24,000 km / year) * (7-years) = 168,000 km.

    Therefore, the battery cost per km is about ($19,200.00) / (168,000 km) = $0.114 / km.

    If the cost of the car would be $20,000.00 (and assuming 14-years of usable life from the car), then the cost per km of the car would be ($20,000 / (168,000 km * 2) = $0.0595 / km.

    Assuming an initial cost per kWh of $0.15 / kWh and an annual energy cost escalation of 2.5% per year, then the average cost of energy (electricity) per kWh over a period of 14-years would be about $0.177 / kWh (in 14-years the cost of electricity would be $0.207 per kWh).

    This means that the average operating cost of the car would be $0.177 + $0.114 = $0.291 / km.

    The cost of the car per km is $0.595 / km -- assumes no additional taxes are levied.

    For a Toyota, Prius, on the other hand, with an initial gasoline cost of $2.086 / liter and an annual energy cost escalation of 3%, then in 14-years the average cost of gasoline would be $2.546 / liter (the final cost per liter in 14-years would be $3.063 / liter).

    The car (assuming a conservative 20-km per liter), would require for 24,000 km (24,000) / (20 km / liter) = 1,200 liters of gasoline per year, and for a 14-year period would require 16,800 liters (1,200 liters per year) * (14-years).

    The cost of this gasoline would be $42,772.80 ($2.546 * 16,800). The cost per km would be ($42,772.80) / (168,000 *2) = $0.1273 per km for gasoline..

    If the annual maintenance of the Toyota, Prius, is an extreme $1,000.00 per year with a 2% annual inflation rate, then the average cost per year would be $1,141.00 per year, and a total maintance cost of $15,973.94.

    Therefore, ($15,973.94) / (168,000 *2) = $0.04754 per km for maintenance.

    The total operating cost of a Toyota, Prius would be $0.1273 + $0.04754 = $0.1748 per km for operating costs.

    If the cost of a Toyota, Prius is $25,000.00 and 180% in taxes is levied, then the final cost is $45,000 ($25,000.00 * 180%), and the cost per km is ($45,000) / (168,000 *2) = $0.13393.

    In summary, the operating cost of the Prius per km is less than the BP electric car ($0.1748 / km for the Prius vs. $0.291 / km for the electric car under BP).

    The cost of the Prius ($0.13393 / km) is higher than the electric car ($0.595 / km).

    However, the final cost of ownership, is lower for the Prius than for the BP electric car. The total cost of ownership is $0.30873 per km for the Prius, and the total cost of the BP electric car is $0.3505 per km. This is about $1,002 ($0.3505 / km - $0.30873 / km) * (24,000 km / year) more for the electric car under the BP plan per year.

    Remember that the cost of energy has been increased over a period of 14-years both for electricity and for gasoline in this example.

    In addition, depending on how many kilometers are driven, then this example can be modified to account for this. The only people who might benefit from an electrical car under the BP plan would be those that drive much much more than the average of 24,000 km per year since their cost for the battery could be considered fixed.

    This shows that the BP plan is not aimed at consumers, but it is aimed at helping very large corporations to decrease their energy transportation costs.

    Consumers in other words are in the back burner.

  43. A note to the webmaster, please take the spaces between my paragraphs in the previous post.

    The real advantage of electrical cars is in their ability to stop the carbon dioxide emitted from cars. This in my mind is essential to happen, since as the National Academy of Sciences noted even if concentration in the future could be stopped in the future at 550 ppmv, then warming would continue on for several centuries until an equilibrium of about 3 degrees Celsius would be reached due to what is called "....time-lags inherent in the Earth's climate."

    The estimate is for temperatures at this concentration level of carbon dioxide to stabilize between 2.1 and 4.3 degrees Celsius.

    In this sense, any plan to get of the ICEs is necessary immediately.

  44. I can't edit comments, only delete them.
    I appreciate the detailed analysis, but would suggest your projected annual maintenance on the Prius is much too high for what is historically a very reliable vehicle.

  45. JP, thank you for informing me about your Blog. What you fail to realize in posting well reasoned arguments against Better Place, is that you are not dealing with a simple business model, but a quasi-religious cult.

    The BP battery swapping concept is not new. It was first outlined in a Popular Science type magazine in the late 1950's. When probing questions are put to the folks representing Better Place, or even Shai Aggassi, the answers are disturbingly vague. Shai Agassi, and his staff, seem to really bright guys in the IT industry, but have very little training in logistics or industrial engineering.

    Better Place relies upon a monopolistic situation where the EV must be a BP EV , fitted with a BP charger and Battery. No major country will tolerate such an uncompetitive business model. But worse, the BP concept is designed to overcome a problem of Ev's having a range of only 50-100 miles. This is absurd. Already Ev's are achieving far greater battery pack capacity. I drive a LEVRR with a range of over two hundred miles and can easily handle fast charging without any battery damage.

    Advanced Range extended vehicles like the GM-Volt will capture a huge share of the EV market, in fact, Peugeot, Mazda, Mercedes, Ford Europe, LuxGen,Hyundai are all releasing REEV's fitted with small Diesel (Biodiesel) or propane/LPG range extenders.

    By the time BP can even begin to build the enormous infrastructure required to by the battery swapping concept, the technology of energy storage units in the average EV, will have developed to a degree of efficiency that will render BP's battery swapping, obsolete before it really commenced.

    BP, may continue in business with recharging posts, but I think they will find it very difficult to compete with the utilities.

    But as I say, the business model for BP, as far as battery swapping stations, is doomed to failure.

  46. I can appreciate the comparison of the BP model to religious zealotry since there is little logical basis to the effort, other than profit building monopolization.

  47. Yes, but I mean the entire methodology of the way they staff behave and conduct meetings if more fervent than Amway, it really borders on a cult.

    There is a persistent Better Place advocate, I assume employee, who posts under the name of ffinder, on most 'green' forums, especially automotive. This advocate only posts on Better Place issues always with the same enthusiastic support. In Australia, BP withdrew it's application to go public and has remained a private entity, to avoid reporting each of it's investors form private JVC's, which as separate entity's only appear on BP's balance sheet as 'loans', convertible to equity.

  48. I've written several critical comments this morning about your (JP) views on Tesla Motors and their electric vehicle claims. That aside, I also do not buy into the idea of battery swapping. In fact, I think it's completely stupid.
    To add another point to your points, I would say that I can't imagine anyone swapping out their $10K or $20K battery for another one of unknown status at some swap station which may, or may not, tighten it down properly. It would be much easier to just swap cars, which, of course, changes the whole dynamic of "owning" the car.

  49. BP must really be a bad idea if we both agree ;)

  50. "Point 3 Improving and changing battery technology may very well mean that your vehicle which has been specifically designed with the extremely close tolerances required for a swappable pack may not even be able to use a new chemistry. I doubt a liquid cooled and heated pack will work with a swappable pack, so you can't use Tesla's batteries, which are the highest in energy density at this point. You also assume that BP will offer a different technology to you, it may not be in their best financial interest to upgrade you, and since you are locked into doing it their way you don't have any options".

    Not so..
    Do some more research JP. Here you go...

  51. Claiming they can switch different pack types is far different than actually being able to do so. Recent comments from Tesla indicate their pack will probably not be swappable in one minute as it's integral to the vehicle structure, has 30 bolts holding it in place, plus electrical and liquid coolant connections, and simply will not fit in existing BP swap stations. Even if it were somehow capable of fast swapping and somehow BP was able to swap it the whole concept is no more practical. Not only would a swap station need an unknown number of unused, fully charged batteries sitting around, now they would also need a variety of different batteries. Worth noting that keeping a lithium pack sitting around unused in a full state of charge is a good way to shorten it's life. The whole concept is a terrible idea from the beginning, as I've been repeatedly pointing out.

  52. "Not only would a swap station need an unknown number of unused, fully charged batteries sitting around, now they would also need a variety of different batteries"

    I don't know where you get your ideas from but batteries in the swap bays would typically have come from other cars 4-6 hours before and are constantly rotated. I wouldn't call that unused. According to BP modelling, an inventory of 8 batter packs at one switch station will support 2,500 cars.
    As to whether BP will be able to handle multiple battery types, the proof of the pudding will be in the eating. They have proven that they can handle 2 different types. The BP taxi pilot in Japan was able to demonstrate under body batter replacement whereas the Fluence ZE has its battery slotted into a rear boot cavity of the car. How the robotics would work within a single swap station I don't know. At the moment I'm taking it at face value that it will work until proven otherwise. We will know soon enough here in Australia as stations and BP charge points are starting to go into the ground.

  53. You take BP press releases as gospel when they are far from it.
    How are 8 battery packs going to support 2500 cars, which will take different pack configurations, if the swap station is actually used? If more than 8 cars show up in an hour they are screwed, even fewer cars if they stock different packs. If swapping actually catches on they'd have to stock many more than 8 packs, if it doesn't catch on, which it won't, then the swap stations and extra battery pack sitting around unused are a huge investment that will never pay back.
    Bottom line as an EV owner I know that I charge at home, cheaply, 99.9% of the time, and have no need for swapping, especially since the infrastructure of swap stations and swappable packs would raise the cost, as would buying into the BP "charging minutes" business model. I know a lot of EV owners who don't care about pack swapping and would rather have a fast charge network, which is already being rolled out, and is much cheaper to implement than a network of overpriced swap stations. Not to mention businesses are realizing the benefit of offering free Level 2 charging to lure customers.
    If BP network sets up in Australia with government support you may not realize for a few years what a waste it was.

  54. If more than 8 cars show up in an hour they are screwed, even fewer cars if they stock different packs.

    OK we both agree packs are coming in and going out. I've checked the numbers again and BP swap stations will maintain 15 packs not 8 to support 2,500 vehicles. You must also take into account that the swap stations are only there for people who are going take longer trips(90miles+). Based on suburban driving patterns most people on a day to day basis will charge at home and at work as you yourself have said.
    Also based on what I am reading fast charging concerns me with the current technology as it will kill my expensive battery faster than you can say Jack Robinson. I really don't want to be buying another battery unless the car manufacturer will replace it for me for free when it dies or diminishes. And you and I both know that ain't going to happen. Maybe you can get an extended warranty, I don't know. Most times you pay extra for that.
    Personally i am going to be much happier not worrying about the battery at all as it won't be mine. Also I want to make sure the car has resale value in 5 years when I go to sell it.
    Who is going to want to buy a car with a diminished or dead battery?

  55. Here's the problem. A swap station that is as underutilized as we both expect cannot succeed. If gas stations didn't have cars constantly coming in and out buying gasoline and other products they wouldn't exist. Since we both agree that most cars will charge at home, (cheaply if you don't buy into the BP model), then those swap stations will rarely be used. You can't have a network of swap stations sitting around unused in enough locations to actually deliver on their promise of unfettered travel, as I have previously pointed out. As batteries improve and ranges increase there will be even less need for this swap station network, especially since most current and planned EV's do not support the BP pack swap.
    As for fast charging quickly destroying a battery that's simply not true. Nissan has said fast charging MORE than twice a day will degrade the pack faster, but no one is going to do that on a regular basis at all. There is a LEAF in Japan that has fast charged over 300 times so far with no measurable loss in capacity. Fast charge will be a rare occurrence and will have no noticeable affect on your pack.
    The pack is already warrantied for 8 years and 100k miles, no need for an extended warranty. As for resale value it should be pretty good since an EV drivetrain lasts far longer than an ICE drivetrain. Even if you needed to put in a new pack, which by that time could be better than the original, so you could actually buy a used vehicle that was truly better than new.

  56. Part of BP's primary profit center is to require people who charge at home to use BP's proprietary charger at whatever price BP chooses to set. Owners would NOT be allowed to charge by plugging in to their own 240v outlet. Nor would they be allowed to plug in to an outlet at a relative's house where they happen to be visiting.

    No way in hell would Americans agree to such a system.

  57. I do not think they care where you charge, though I am not sure exactly. You are purchasing a service that is defined, so it seems reasonable to go to any authorized charge spots, which I will assume can be a 110 plug [provided you have a standards compliant cable]. I remember an earlier plan that included rebates if you swap too much. BP's job is selling miles and a good experience, getting you into a car without costs or concerns for a battery. To go out of the BP system will not lower your miles, but it might reduce costs.

    From the site:
    overview »
    batteries »
    switch stations »
    charging »
    ev driver services »
    ev network software »
    Electric Car Roaming »
    standards »



    Developing an open network capable of serving all EV drivers and interacting with our technology partners is central to the Better Place mission to accelerate the transition to EVs. The Better Place network of charge spots not only will provide charging services to Better Place subscribers, but also will enable drivers of almost any plug-in vehicle to charge.

    Better Place charge spots are based on national and international standards and offer safe, reliable, and convenient charging. The industry is making rapid progress to standardize charging connectors for different locations and uses. Better Place is actively participating in these standardization discussions in international bodies like ISO and IEC. The two current frontrunners for standard charge spot connection are J1772 (U.S.) and IEC 62196/Mennekes (Europe). Drivers of any type of standards-compliant, plug-in EV will be able to benefit from the ease of use, high reliability and clean design of our charge spots with the standardized connectors.

    Establishing global standards will accelerate wide-spread adoption of EVs and make the driver experience more convenient.

  58. Except no EV manufacturers, other than Renault, are using BP "standards". The bottom line is owning an EV that is not part of the BP network will give you lower lifetime costs than owning the same EV that's locked into the BP network. BP adds nothing to the EV experience, other than increased costs.