It was about 9 months ago that Better Place – the company who brought real-world battery swapping to electric cars in Israel – filed for bankruptcy. Since then, electric car owners in Isreal have seen the company fail to be acquired twice and make do with charging when and where they can.
The situation may be looking up, though, as it was announced this week that Carasso Motors, an importer for Nissan and Renault cars, along with Paz Oil Company have reached an agreement to bring rapid charging to Israel. The rapid charging stations are being described as ‘universal’ which leads us to believe they are duel headed AC/DC rapid charge stations capable of providing CHAdeMO and 44kW AC power.
The first charging station has already been installed at this week at the Paz gas station at Hasira Interchange in Herzliya. This is the first of nine charging stations in the first phase of this roll out.
The rapid chargers are pay per use and cost between 15 and 20 Israeli New Sheqel. That works out at around £2.60 – £3.40, €3.10 – €4.15 or $4.30 – $5.70 per charge.
Unfortunately, these rapid chargers will not work with Better Place cars as they had not form of rapid charge technology built in. By the end of Better Place less than 1000 cars were on the road in Israel that could make use of the battery swap stations they had installed. This is after Better Place ordered 100,000 cars from Renault in a non-binding agreement. Each battery swap station was fully automated and could swap a battery in a car in around 3 minutes. The only car which could use the stations was the now discontinued Renault Fluence ZE – which was built with this battery swap technology in mind.
It was this promise of three-minute stops for a new battery which resulted in cars such as the Nissan LEAF and the Renault ZOE historically never taking off in Israel. After all, why buy a car whose best recharge speed – in Israel at least – was measured in the hours. No good at all for travelling longer distance. In some ways, the bankruptcy of Better Place may have had a positive effect on the uptake of electric cars in Israel by opening up the market.
While rapid charging with high current DC or multi-phase AC is the generally accepted way to charge electric cars on the go, battery swapping is being explored by a number of companies. Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors, confirmed that the Model S battery swap stations will go into testing between San Francisco and Los Angeles in the next few months. Also a project by GreenWay ProjectSlovakia has shown that simple battery swapping – without automatic – can be used in some settings to great effect.
Will this rapid charging network fair better than Better Place did? Do you want someone else to give battery swapping a go? Let us know below.
You can also support us directly as a monthly supporting member by visiting Patreon.com.