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Better Place Heads North to Ontario

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betterplacebullfrogElectric vehicle infrastructure startup Better Place has been on a roll, convincing countries, and lately U.S. states, to test out its network of chargers and battery swap stations. So why not our neighbors up north? According to the Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail, Better Place and the Ontario government plan to announce a pilot Better Place project this morning in Toronto. Reportedly, Premier Dalton McGuinty and Minister of International Trade Sandra Pupatello will attend.

Better Place has told the media this morning to watch a webcast video at 7:30, so we’ll bring you more when we know more. Stay tuned!

Update: Better Place says it will create a Canadian head office in Ontario and will work with Bullfrog Power, a Canadian retailer which provides clean electricity. In addition, Better Place will partner with Macquarie Capital Markets of Canada to work on a network rollout plan as well as an investment timeline for the network.

Premier Dalton McGuinty gave a speech in which he said consumers are already comfortable with the Better Place’s business model, which is buying miles for a car like music for iPod. McGuinty said the project would do three things for Toronto: create green jobs, make life more convenient for car drivers of the future, and signal for Ontario that we are electric car-friendly. McGuinty said the Ontario government will report back this May with our findings.

Shai Agassi, CEO of Better Place, said this is the first step into Canada, and the startup will build an electric vehicle demonstration center in Toronto. The future will be driven by sustainable development, he said, and connecting the electric grid with parking and charging spots is the project of our generation. Most of the effort of installing such a grid is human capital and labor, you can’t outsource that, said Agassi, who added that electric vehicles will grow faster than any other the segment of the car industry since 1946.

Consumers want cleaner cars that they can feel good about, Agassi said. When governments signal where the market is going, consumers will go there. “We believe that this is what society will look like in 25 years, but starting today,” he said.

Image courtesy of Bullfrog.

4 Responses to “Better Place Heads North to Ontario”

  1. Fast recharge Lithium Ion batteries (5 minutes) are already available for electric cars and are expected to become the norm for long-range applications, eliminating the need for old technologies such as battery swapping. Other even faster recharge technologies are nearing the pilot manufacturing stage. The fast recharge power converter technology required to recharge a car using such batteries is more or less off the shelf and not difficult to make.
    Though I am in support of electric cars, technologies that increase the cost of electric cars such as obsolete and unnecessary battery swapping shouldn’t be viewed as supporting rather hurting the industry. I am greatly disappointed to see a government such as Ontario supporting such an obsolete and unnecessary technology.

  2. A viable plug-in hybrid will eat the lunch of any PBP system. PHEVs might have a cost premium, but once it’s paid for, you are done. PBP is basically a large monthly car payment forever.

  3. In theory, this seems like a good idea. Cars using less gas, jobs based on a new futuristic infrastructure model, electricity sources that are less carbon intensive… what could be better?
    but we need to read the small print: ‘cost per mile?’, exclusivity contracts? subscription services?

    Green is more than non-carbon, it is a lifestyle about non-profit, community building, self-empowerment, minimal costs, and choice. If we are paying 2-5x more to be able to have the freedom to use convenient and personalized transport, then we are not much further ahead at all. Travel throughout North America is based on the empowerment of the individual (and group of course) for roadtrips and far-flung family and friend get-togethers.

    However, if these stations are about occasional convenience on top of cheap home-based and work-based powering, then I embrace the convenience and the ‘first step’ that this produces. But we must be vigilant. Companies tend to mask their true heavy-profit intentions under ‘green’ sheep’s clothing.