Better Place

Post image for Electric Vehicles: Is a “Better Place” Now in a Better Place?

Three factors limit the market penetration of electric vehicles. One is purchase price. For example, the average price paid for a gasoline-powered 2013 Ford Focus ranges from $16,500 to $24,176. In contrast, the average price paid for a 2013 Ford Focus Electric is $39,020.

Another drawback is range. Except for the Tesla Model S, with an EPA-estimated range of 265 miles, most battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) have EPA-estimated ranges of 62 to 99.8 miles — although motorists may go farther under actual driving conditions, Edmunds.Com reports. These range limitations diminish the utility and, thus, value of BEVs for many consumers, and may induce “range anxiety” — fear of being stranded between where you are and where you have to go. The Tesla Model S has an impressive range but, with a manufacturer’s recommended sale price of $69,900, most households cannot afford to buy one even with generous federal and state tax rebates.

A third and related barrier to consumer acceptance is recharging time. Of a dozen BEVs tested by Edmunds.Com, some recharged in ‘as little as’ 4 hours (2013 Fiat 500e, Ford Focus Electric, Honda Fit EV). But for some, the recharging time was as long as 5 hours (Tesla Model S), 6 hours (Volkswagon E-Golf), and 7 hours (Chevrolet Spark EV, Mitsubishi i MiEv). Buying a BEV means paying for the inconvenience of not being able to gas up and go in 5 minutes at the nearest service station the way ordinary folks do.

To overcome these battery-related inconveniences, an Israeli company called “Better Place” developed networks of battery-charging and -swapping stations in Israel and Denmark. Better Place hoped the stations would spark consumer interest in electric vehicles and spread globally. But on Sunday the firm announced “that it is shutting down, less than six years after unveiling an ambitious plan that promised to revolutionize the auto industry by reducing the world’s dependency on oil,” reports the Detroit Free Press. [click to continue…]