Where Tesla & Better Place Don’t Agree

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Electric vehicle maker Tesla has designed its electric sedan the Model S around the placement, size and capacity of the car’s battery pack, the company explained on a rare factory tour this week. Tesla has designed the battery to fit underneath the bottom of the Model S, making the underside of the car completely smooth, and even enabling Tesla to swap out the battery in a minute, according to Peter Rawlinson, VP and Chief Engineer for Vehicle Engineering at Tesla.

But does that mean Tesla is interested in working with Better Place, the electric vehicle charging startup that has based its business model around battery swapping? Uh, not so much. During the Q&A session of the factory tour Rawlinson said that while the Model S battery is designed to be swappable, Tesla’s philosophy is very different than Better Place’s idea to make battery forms standardized.

We think the form of the battery is integral to the design of the car, said Rawlinson. For example the battery shape, size and weight of the Model S will be different than the Roadster. Basically Tesla doesn’t think batteries for different electric cars should be standardized in form and size. It’s like if all internal combustion cars had the same engine size, but engine size is inherently linked to performance, which should be variable for vehicles, noted Rawlinson.

“Different batteries suit different cars. It’s far too simplistic to look at batteries as isolation,” said Rawlinson.

So there you have it. If you thought Tesla and Better Place should be BFFs because they’re both EV startups, well, think again.

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