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Summary:

First it was “Shalom,” then “Goddag,” and perhaps very soon “Olá” for Shai Agassi’s electric vehicle infrastructure startup, Project Better Place, which is reported to have a deal with the Portuguese government. Prime Minister Jose Socrates signed an agreement today with Better Place partners Renault-Nissan to […]

First it was “Shalom,” then “Goddag,” and perhaps very soon “Olá” for Shai Agassi’s electric vehicle infrastructure startup, Project Better Place, which is reported to have a deal with the Portuguese government. Prime Minister Jose Socrates signed an agreement today with Better Place partners Renault-Nissan to electrify the county’s auto fleet. Project Better Place has not yet been officially announced as a partner, but Diario Economico reports such an agreement is on the way. Project Better Place declined to comment on any ongoing negotiations.

Portugal is a logical next step for Project Better Place to show its system can scale in the open market. The Iberian nation is slightly bigger and more populous than either Denmark or Israel, Project Better Place’s first two national partners. Also, Portugal (like most EU nations) is not a sheltered automotive haven like Denmark or Israel, which have massively skewed tax systems that harshly penalize the internal combustion engine. Geographically, Portugal offers a prime opportunity to test Project Better Place’s ability to adequately deploy charging stations in a place where many drivers travel long distances. Success in Portugal could warm the rest of the European Union to the American startup’s plan.

Nissan and Renault have agreed to roll out electric cars in Portugal by 2011 and will work together to build a charging station infrastructure. The three-year project is estimated to cost the automakers between $500 million and $1 billion. If the experience of Israel and Denmark are any indication, Project Better Place will likely manage the infrastructure development while Renault designs and manufactures the cars and Nissan develops the swappable batteries.

There’s still no word on the Palo Alto, Calif.-based startup electrifying any cars stateside but we bet San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom is getting antsy as more countries sign on before him.

  1. PHEVs would work better, and they’d need less batteries.

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  2. Jim, but we would still need oil.

    It is surprising to see these countries signing up. How much are the governments investing, in the forms of infrastructure, and tax-subsidies?
    -BenB

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  3. Ben,

    I’m beginning to think that ‘tax’ is the key selling point for PBP. With a subsidized charging infrastructure, the system can easily assess and harvest tax income from the participants. Contrast this with a homegrown EV system, with chargers in people’s homes. How can the energy be taxed? A lot harder than it is now with gasoline.

    I guess that’s another problem with PBP. The one place you’d really want (and need) a charger, is in your own home. The charging stations to be built would only be usable in mid-day, when electricity use is already highest, instead of at night, when your car is at home in your garage.

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  4. Hello,

    Being from Portugal and being used to desillusions with big VE announcements I see these news with moderate enthusiasm. The government here is going to cut all VE related taxes by 70% to serve as an initial boost while the technology doesn’t get their performance and price closer to “regular” cars. Until VE’s are 15% of the total number of cars charging will be for free in public facilities. This infrastrcture will be mandatory in all public buildings, parking lots and highways until 2011.A national builder of fotovoltaics says they’ll promote a domestic package of 20 sqm of panels for you to supply your car for free at home. The particular model Renault presented ables you to change your battery at any service station lika a bottle of natural gas you only pay the deposit (you can always only fill at home or other buildings for free).40% of our electricity in our country comes from renewables and the PM is really promoting this like it was a war for national integrity -the country went mad max-y a month ago when fuel supply stopped for 2 days. We don’t have nuclear, gas or oil but we are calling energetic independence “our last chance”. EV are part of the solution but we need better trains, bike paths and cities and, more than anything else, people’s mindset and behaviours.

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  5. Jim, actually you would have a charging station at home, according to Shai Agassi.

    Who said only having a charging station at home is the right way? Afterall, someone needs to make ALL the cars, and ALL the batteries.

    Finally, the issue has reached national security levels in many countries. So, extra taxes to move towards Oil elimination is worthwhile.

    Everyone who is not an Arab ‘needs to stop using oil as soon as possible.’

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  6. Actually Happy Go Lucky,

    Having your own charging station at home is a possibility that leaves you immune to taxes and fluctuations (it’s a pretty big investment but you’re buying safety). I still think most people would use the grid and public charging stations.
    I really despise paranoia and despair but in this country it’s really a matter of economic survival and not only maintaining bad habits.
    I completely disagree with the Arab stereotype you mention- it’s mainly the extraction corporations that benefit and a lot of “soft” or hardcore dictatorships in latin america and eastern europe also benefit from this powerful political blackmail tool.
    My main motivation remains the good of our environment of which even dictators benefit…

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  7. [...] still waiting for official word on if Project Better Place will move into Portugal where its business partners Nissan-Renault recently signed an agreement to provide electric cars [...]

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  8. [...] offerings along with Israel and Denmark (where the car maker does have deals with Better Place) and Portugal, as well as Tennessee and the Kanagawa Prefecture in Japan, where Renault has similar partnerships [...]

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  9. [...] offerings along with Israel and Denmark (where the car maker does have deals with Better Place) and Portugal, as well as Tennessee and the Kanagawa Prefecture in Japan, where Renault has similar partnerships [...]

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  10. [...] in recent months: Portugal committed to creating a national network within three years as part of a deal with Renault-Nissan, and Ireland announced plans to invest in infrastructure for the 250,000 electric vehicles it aims [...]

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