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Better Place, China Southern Grid sign strategic agreement on battery switching; Guangzhou accord to encourage production of EVs with switchable batteries

Better Place and China Southern Power Grid Co. (CSG)signed a strategic agreement calling for the companies to open a battery switch station and joint education center in Guangzhou before the end of the year, while working to formalize a joint-venture partnership. CSG is the world’s eighth-largest utility, according to the Fortune Global 500. The agreement, which focuses on joint electric car and infrastructure projects in CSG’s service areas, will further advance electric cars with switchable batteries in China.

Also, Executive Vice Mayor Wu Yimin signed an agreement with Better Place Founder and CEO Shai Agassi that calls for the Municipal Government of Guangzhou to assist Better Place and CSG in their efforts to create a supply chain hub and electric car network in China’s third largest city and home to CSG.

The Guangzhou accord calls for the municipal government to encourage local car manufacturers, such as Guangzhou Automobile Industry Group, to produce electric cars with switchable batteries. It also calls for the city to promote electric-car adoption in fleet segments including public-sector vehicles and private-sector fleets such as taxis.

China Southern Grid is an important partner in a huge market that is moving quickly toward the mass-market development of electric cars and is embracing battery switch as the primary means of range extension. Our collaboration with China Southern and the support of the Guangzhou government open the door to new opportunities for switchable-battery electric cars made by Chinese manufacturers for the domestic and export markets.

— Better Place Founder and CEO Shai Agassi

Better Place has conducted extensive research and testing on its battery-switch technology combined with managed charging, which takes into account the attributes and needs of the electric grid as the electric-car industry grows rapidly in China. We believe that networked infrastructure is critical to enable broad adoption and focusing on charging alone would be too costly and time-consuming. The battery-switch model may become mainstream in China and our joint visitor center and battery switch demonstration project with Better Place will help promote electric-car adoption in China by allowing potential customers to experience this innovative solution.

—China Southern Grid Chairman Zhao Jianguo

The Better Place-CSG agreement calls for the companies to jointly engage relevant Chinese government bodies and other stakeholders, secure governmental policy support, and promote technical standards, where appropriate, to further accelerate China’s rapidly-growing, electric-car industry.

The companies will develop in phases the joint education center to host government and industry delegations and educate Chinese consumers about the benefits of going electric. The center will include interactive exhibits, meeting facilities, electric cars that visitors can test drive, and an automated battery switch station. The facility is slated to open before the end of year in central Guangzhou. Better Place currently operates similar centers near Tel Aviv, Copenhagen, and Toronto, hosting nearly 100,000 visitors per year.

As CSG and Better Place further develop their relationship, the companies also are looking at the potential for a joint commercial operation based on a switchable-battery, network-operator model. Their pilot projects and other joint activities will explore the benefits that switchable-battery electric cars and the networked infrastructure that supports them can deliver to the electric grid in CSG’s service area, which spans five provinces, one million square kilometers, and 230 million people in Southern China.

CSG, which ranks number 156 on the Fortune Global 500 list of the world’s largest corporations, is part of the Electric Vehicle Industry Alliance led by China’s State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, or SASAC. The Chinese government created the alliance of state-owned auto, battery, electric, and oil companies with the ultimate goal of building internationally competitive electric-car brands. The Chinese government has declared the electric-car industry one of seven strategic emerging sectors, stated its intent for China to become the world's largest developer and manufacturer of electric cars, and offered strong support in the form of investment and incentives as the country seeks to leapfrog combustion-engine technology and reduce a growing dependence on oil.

We are in advanced discussions with a number of Chinese automakers to partner around our open network solution and we will share our selection of preferred partners with the market once a final decision is made.

—Shai Agassi

By the end of the year, Better Place will have battery switch stations under deployment in the US, Europe, Australia and China.

Comments

HarveyD

More good news for future e-vehicles.

Reel$$

"By the end of the year, Better Place will have battery switch stations under deployment in the US, Europe, Australia and China."

Apparently Mr. Agassi pictures himself a military general of sorts. China is the perfect place for his battery switch scheme. It is far more likely China will adopt battery replacement concept than extended range EVs or high AER battery capacity.

SJC

Shai Agassi has done a great job promoting himself and his ideas. He is not seen as odd, but as a visionary. It is an example of personal charisma carrying the idea and not the other way around.

kelly

A year from now, as the Better Place business model succeeds(esp. in Israel), watch the sparks..

Reel$$

I kinda think that's what some are worried about kelly!

Herm

yet China is still subsidizing the cost of gasoline at the pump.

JRP3

So BP is going to have battery swap stations in the US, where no EV's are going to be built to use them? Another great idea from BP.

HarveyD

JRP3....since we will import electrified vehicles from China by the millions, we will need swap and charge stations to use them.

SJC

The idea seems to be that you will have battery swap stations on every corner like Jiffy Lube or 7/11. The chicken and the egg problem looms large. You have to have the cars for the business before you build the businesses for the cars.

They will have to be Jiffy Lubes or some other revenue source if they are going to make it. Having people sit around like the Maytag repair men is not a good business plan. It could be years before the battery side of the business even begins to make any money, if then.

Yuval Brandstetter

You can't have an EV without the charging infrastructure just like you can't have an ICE car without someone unloading combustible fluids at your local and away stations.
You don't need a switch station at every intersection because the vast majority of charging is to be done at home. Didnt GM invest billions in the Volt under the same logic?
Even if you factor 5 thousand switch stations in the USA its only about one weeks worth of gas burned in the USA. Once they are installed, then an onboard 1000Lb range extender seems ridiculous
Looking at the vast majority of car manufacturers, they are all going to turn out EV's by 2015. And only BP is ready to give them smart-grid charging and range-extension if they wish to make some sales, not just show up in auto shows
Finally when Iran's reactors are annihilated the Persian Gulf will be closed to all traffic, which means oil production will drop by 30-50 %, and gas will go to 10-15 $per gallon. You want to have your EV alternative ready by then. And guess who will order the big raid!!!

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