CITIES BY THE BATTERY
The Cities by the Bay have developed ambitions to become the Cities by the Battery.
The battery of an electric vehicle (EV).
San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose, California, have all signed on with Better Place to develop a regional EV transport system. The system will be based on the model now being planned for Israel. It will be tested in Denmark and Australia by the time it gets going in the cities by the San Francisco Bay.
The Silicon Valley-infatuated Bay Area is fascinated by the Silicon Valley-spawned Better Place business model.
Better Place founder/CEO Shai Agassi, who made his money in Silicon Valey IT ventures during the go-go 90s, proposes to make EVs available as inexpensively as possible and generate revenue through monthly mileage subscriptions. The idea comes from the way cell phones are marketed.
Better Place believes the plan will make battery-powered vehicles available to a wider spectrum of drivers, expanding the customer base.
EVs, it has been thought, do not appeal to U.S. drivers because of the limited range the cars can go on a battery charge and the lengthy recharge time required. Better Place believes it has overcome these objections. It begins with the fact that the average daily commute is 16 miles and about 80% of all car trips are 40 miles or less.
Better Place plans to (1) use lithium-ion batteries with a 100-mile range, (2) have charging stations conveniently located so vehicles can be readily recharged whenever and wherever they arrive, and (3) operate automated, fast-switch, battery-changing stations no more than 100 miles apart for journeys beyond the battery’s limit.
Nissan and Renault are expected to continue collaborating with Better Place to supply the EVs and batteries.
By the time the Better Place plan is in place in the Bay Area, it will likely be competing with plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) from several of the major automakers.
One way or another, a shift to battery-driven vehicles is coming. Simultaneous with the Better Place announcement, Global Venture Lab at the University of California, Berkeley, released a series of technical briefs describing the economic feasilbility and benefits of battery-driven vehicles.
From Global Venture Lab’s Economic Impact of Electric Vehicle Adoption in the United States: “…this change will cause some domestic industries (e.g. gasoline) to shrink, while causing others (e.g. electricity production) to grow. We estimate the petroleum industry will suffer a $174.9 billion decline, while the battery industry will experience $120.3 billion gain at 39% adoption (year 2030). There will also be significant changes in the balance of payments among nations as petroleum imports decline. We find the net imports of the US will decline by $20 Billion at 39% adoption. Additionally, we find EVs to be the more efficient technology, as the total cost of ownership is $7,203 (2008 dollars) less than that of an ICE vehicle. Together with the reduction in imports, consumers will benefit from savings due to the reduced energy and maintenance costs of EVs, which will reach $80 billion (in 2008 dollars) by 2030.”
When something makes dollars and sense, it usually happens sooner or later.
Footnote: The San Francisco Chronicle endorsed the Better Place concept but raised an interesting concern, the potential monopolistic power Better Place might eventually wield: “With one firm controlling the charging stations, there needs to [be a] fair way to determine how much drivers will pay for the service…”
The Chronicle also pointed out that the current financial crisis might not be the best time to try to initiate such a transportation transformation. Better Place says it has its financing in place and development will make a big contribution to economic recovery.
Finally: The adaptability of Bay Area residents and commuters to organized transportation was demonstrated by their quick adoption of the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) subway system.
Better Place: The car and the concept. From Imaguration via YouTube.
Bay Area seeks to become electric car capital
Eoin O’Carroll, November 24, 2008 (Christian Science Monitor)
Better Place (Shai Agassi, founder/CEO); San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom; San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed; Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums; Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif); California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
Official announcement was made of the long-rumored partnership between the cites of the San Francisco Bay Area and electric vehicle (EV) innovator Better Place. Technical briefs from a Bay Area think tank suggest the shift to EVs is entirely feasible.
click to enlarge
- The announced plans call for the installation of ~ 250,000 charging ports and up to 200 battery-exchange stations in the region by 2012.
- Better Place was founded in 2007. It will initiate a similar programs in other countries in 2010 and 2011.
- San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose are clustered around San Francisco Bay in an extended megaloplis.
- Better Place is based in Palo Alto, Calif., just south of the Bay Area and adjacent to Silicon Valley.
- Better Place has already begun developing EV networks in Israel, Denmark, and Australia.
- The Bay Area network of charging and batttery-exchange stations is expected to cost $1 billion network.
- Better Place battery capacity is a 100-mile range.
- Typical U.S. work commute is 16 miles.
- About 80% of all vehicle trips are less than 40 miles roundtrip.
- Better Place proposes placing 1000s of recharging stations conveniently for use by commuters and 100-to-200 automated, rapid battery-swap stations at 100 mile distances for longer trips.
- Previous Better Place projects in Israel and Denmark involved partnerships with Nissan and Renault for the vehicles and the batteries.
- Founder/CEO Agassi has raised $200 million in venture capital for initial funding and expects to raise another $800 million over the next 3 years from backers Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, and the Macquarie Capital Alliance Group.
- San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose will not be involved in funding but will offer incentives and expedite permits for building charging stations in homes, businesses, and public parking spaces. They will also develop programs for state- and municipal-government EV fleets.
- A federal incentive of up to $7,500 for EV purchasers is expected to help.
Project Better Place’s campaign to stop pumping oil and plug in. From Odziz via YouTube.
- San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom: “Our aim is to make the Bay Area – and eventually California – the electric vehicle capital of the US…”
- California Governor Schwarzenegger: “This type of public-private partnership is exactly what I envisioned when we created the first ever low-carbon fuel standard and when the state enacted the zero-emissions vehicle program…This partnership is proof that by working together, we can achieve our goals of creating a healthier planet while boosting our economy at the same time.”
- Alex Steffen, environmentalist and futurist: “[This is] precisely this kind of an investment in the infrastructure that’s needed to really get innovation and uptake rolling…[W]hen I read one billion for this project, I thought about the roughly one trillion or so we’re expected to dump into economic stabilization and recovery programs, all told, and wondered if even half of that went into new bright green infrastructure, what we might accomplish…”
- ABC News Poll: “[Commuters] report an average one-way commute time of 26 minutes (over an average distance of 16 miles)…”