Better Place Lands $350 Million in New Funding

Better Place secured a new round of funding for the start-up company’s grand vision of creating a global network of electric car battery swapping and recharge stations. London-based HSBC led the $350 million round of financing, contributing $125 million in exchange for a 10 percent stake in Better Place. That gives Better Place a market value of $1.25 billion—even before the company has put its first battery swapping station into service.

Promo video from Better Place: New and existing Better Place investors share their views on the dynamics driving the transformative shift to electric vehicles and why they backed Better Place.

The backing from HSBC, a conservative bank, and a consortium of other investors is a major vote of confidence for Better Place—and could begin to silence skeptics of the company’s technology and business plan, of which there are many. With future electric car models likely to come in many shapes and sizes, many industry experts believe that battery swapping is major technical challenge. In addition, many market forecasters predict that electric cars will take a decade or so to reach a small niche of car buyers. And plug-in hybrids like the Chevy Volt, Prius Plug-in Hybrid, and Fisker Karma, don’t need battery swapping—they run mostly on electricity, but use a small gas-engine to extend the vehicle’s range to a level on par with conventional vehicles.

The Opinions That Matter

Better Place Battery Swapping Robot

Demonstration of Better Place’s robotic battery swapping technology.

Yet, the venture capital community is convinced that Better Place is creating a breakthrough disruptive technology. “It could be a game-changer in its sector the way Google and Microsoft were in theirs,” said Anthony Bernbaum, global head of special opportunities for HSBC. Speaking to The New York times, Bernbaum added, “We started out cynical, and we’ve done expert diligence. We think Better Place is going to work.”

According to Shai Agassi, Better Place CEO, the new capital will be used to complete R&D and to get trial efforts up and running by the middle of next year. “We’re still 18 months away from a full operating network,” said Agassi.

Better Place has raised about $700 million to date, and by some estimates, will need another billion dollars to realize its vision. The company is hoping to play a key role in getting the world off oil. Under Better Place’s plan, consumers would buy electric cars from major auto companies, but lease the batteries from Better Place—similar to how cell phone owners buy the phone and purchase minutes.

Nearly every global automaker is planning to introduce a pure electric car in the next few years. Electric cars commonly have a driving range of about 100 miles before they need to be fully recharged for several hours. Better Place would build a vast network of charging stations and battery-swapping locations to replace today’s gas stations. Electric vehicle drivers with depleted batteries would charge-up or swap-out in a matter of minutes, and be on their way.


  • Samie

    Again distribution and this time it is a short-term idea with EV’s. Do not be fooled by this. This idea never works unless you get every major auto-manufacture to buy into this scheme. Consumers would be the real ones that get hurt by this garbage.

    How does 3-4 major Better Place companies sound to you in the U.S.? Leasing battery technology in the long-run slows down innovation and creates stagnation along with yet another way to control distribution. Build a battery that lasts 4 years or only 1? Seems to me we are creating a tire industry, where clearly you don’t want products that last the life time of the vehicle eg. flat-free tires. There will be little incentive for automakers to build superior batteries and use their technology as selling points to attract consumers eg. a selling point by Apple claiming to have seven hours of battery life in the new MacBook… Also first generation drivers of EV’s will have problems or glitches as with any other first generation of product so I don’t think sacrificing a little in unexpected problems to be the first one on the block to have an EV is to much to ask for.

    It should always be the right for the consumer to buy the battery and not lease it, that is without breaking a contract agreement.

  • Shines

    Yes the consumer could own the battery just as I own the gasoline I buy for my car now. However if I was to take a long trip in an EV I might prefer to swap batteries (trade in my spent battery for a fully recharged one) in stead of wait for mine to be recharged. Either way it might happen at the same “station”. If I swap the battery, the new battery is mine and I get a receipt from the station with the swap time the mileage on my vehicle and the guaranteed mileage on the new fully charged battery. If it did not last I would pull in at the next station and receive a pro-rated discount on the next battery which would then be mine. I am playing the devils advocate here but it does not sound unreasonable to me. If I buy a seperate EV just for commuting and recharge it every night from home then I would never need to swap my battery and I don’t see a problem with my ownership. If I own a Volt and never need to swap my battery, that is fine also. Seems to me Better Place would be offering a valid service for EV owners.

  • gaetano marano

    .

    the “cellphoneCAR” swappable batteries “WAS” a great idea and I’ve FIRST suggested it in a July 23, 2007 article [ http://ow.ly/10t69 ] and in a TechnologyReview article’s comment:

    http://www.technologyreview.com/Biztech/19085/?a=f#comment-70560

    BUT, in last two years, many new researches and technologies about lower costs and longer lasting batteries (as you can read in many Technology Review articles) have already made the whole idea of “swappable batteries” cars, outdated and completely useless!

    the #1 candidates to put more energy in future electric cars (ready in the next 3-5 years) surely are the Li-Air batteries (now developed also by IBM) that could multiply the energy density by a factor of TEN, to have smaller and cheaper batteries, able to give 1000+ miles of autonomy per charge to the average cars

    so, it looks very strange that Better Places raised so large funds for a technology that has NO future since overcame SOON by low-cost and high-capacity batteries

    that for those who want to report a correct coverage of the news…

    .

  • Samie

    Sometime in the near future we will see 5-10 minute charging of batteries so why do we need to swap out batteries 4/5 times a trip? The time to change out the battery will equal the same time you need to charge up the battery.

    Also batteries from manufactures have to be universal and the changing systems also. Auto manufactures may be less likely to upgrade battery technology if it means not being universal with battery swap out centers. I see issues with liability also, who is legally responsible for the swapped out battery when something goes wrong? How does the consumer actually know if the battery being swapped in/out is good? Companies like Better Place will want to insure that battery life-span is limited or to develop batteries that only last a few hundred miles.

    Except limitations and deal with it. Problems or limitations create greater innovation and the desire to develop better products. The battery for a EV is like the engine for a petro vehicle we don’t need to see constrains on battery development or a new “fueling” scheme to control how we fuel our cars. This scheme is cleaver you make up lost profits from vehicle maintenance with swap out centers, who knows may be the big oil companies will jump onto this idea also…

  • Mr. Fusion

    I get pissed off when I get a crappy propane tank exchange.
    Sometimes they’re greasy, not filled completely, the valves don’t work properly, bad seals, etc…

    That’s a $16 propane tank.

    Imagine a giant chunk of your prized possession?

    What if the connection points on the battery you just got are worn out or the unit is damaged because some yahoo just took it off-road?

    What about the battery pit at the station? How are they going to keep that area free from dirt, water, snow, salt or anything else that will fall off the bottom of cars?

    Not going to work. Designed by people who have never been under an old car…or grilled a burger.

  • Casey Verdant

    This is good news for Better Place and everyone in the electric car business. These charging stations will secure the national feasibility of electric cars, and $350M in investments is a great start on getting the national grid going.

    Researching how to make your company, product, or next project more Green? Go to http://www.greencollareconomy.com for sustainability white papers and the largest b2b green directory on the web.

  • AndrewGuz

    Thanks for this read mate. Well, this is my first visit to your blog! But I admire the precious time and effort you put into it, especially into interesting articles you share here!
    rehab center

  • trucco occhi

    good post…

    love the ideea…

    keep adding those fund as they are 4 a good cause…

  • trucco occhi

    hope this will grow big….

  • Dana Standridge

    I’m bored to tears at the job and so I decided to try your blog on my iphone for the duration of lunch time. I really like the information you provide here and cannot wait to have a look once I get home. I’m surprised at just how quick your website loaded on my phone .. I am not actually using WIFI, just 3G .. Anyhow, very good blog!
    cell phone spy software

  • retouche de photos

    Good to become browsing your weblog once more, it has been months for me. Well this article that i’ve been waited for so lengthy. I need this post to total my assignment inside the university, and it has exact same subject together with your post. Thanks, excellent share.

  • mack

    I really like the work that has gone into making the post. I will be sure to tell my blog buddies about your content keep up the good work. Thanks
    mce_href=”http://www.personalstatementwriters.com/” rel=”follow”>personal statement writers

  • caydenmiller

    Just got done reading the article and I have to say good. I agree with what you are saying and I will have to look further into this.
    price of silver per ounce today

  • Pakistani Information

    Interesting topic what you have shared with us. Your writing skill is really very appreciative. I love when you share your views through the best articles.Keep sharing and posting articles like these.This article has helped me a lot.Keep posting this stuff.

  • Pakistani Information

    Interesting topic what you have shared with us. Your writing skill is really very appreciative. I love when you share your views through the best articles.Keep sharing and posting articles like these.This article has helped me a lot.Keep posting this stuff.
    Pakistani Information

  • dinle

    Thank you for sharing.
    radyo dinle

  • Computer

    Thanks, to shearing this nice information, I really appreciate your thinking, & i will visit again for getting more updates.

    Lenovo Laptop | buy Blade Server

  • tapra2

    In addition, many market forecasters predict that electric cars will take a decade or so to reach a small niche of car buyers. Technology Review

  • emimaowen

    Thank you for such a fantastic blog. Where else could anyone get that kind of info written in such a perfect way? I have a presentation that I am presently working on and I have been on the look out for such information.
    free cell phone spy software

  • nicolajohn

    Very nicely written post it contains useful information for me. I am happy to find your distinguished way of writing the post. Now you make it easy for me to understand and implement the concept. Thank you for the post.
    clubmz reviews

  • lenaneon

    Very nicely written post it contains useful information for me. I am happy to find your distinguished way of writing the post. Now you make it easy for me to understand and implement the concept. Thank you for the post.
    clubmz reviews

  • ElfordHichkok

    This really seriously a pleasant article. An publishing that fit this description demonstrates exactly how seriously the idea is actually thought of by the source. florist boulder colorado

  • kaiyajoh

    This post is really written very well as the writer has provided valuable and useful information and facts about the topic. I will look forward to the posts written by you in future!
    clubmz reviews

  • andreajohn

    Thanks for taking the time to discuss this I feel strongly about it and love learning more on this topic. If possible as you gain expertise would you mind updating your blog with more information? as it is extremely helpful for me.
    cell phone listening

  • kate pepe

    This place is really written very well as the writer has provided valuable and useful idiot and reality closely the topic. I testament look forward to the posts written by you in future!
    auto repair brampton

  • boutique

    This is good news for Better Place and everyone in the electric car business. These charging stations will secure the national feasibility of electric cars, and $350M in investments is a great start on getting the national grid going.
    mybazaar

  • sana
  • Montana

    The idea is nice and risk free. No doubt anyone would be willing to fund them as their idea and approach is perfect and will go a long way.
    indoor golf simulator

  • niki194

    i will also help you to do this work and help you alot ..contributing $125 million in exchange for a 10 percent stake in Better Place. The backing is a major vote of confidence for Better Place—and could begin to silence skeptics of the company’s technology and business plan.

  • newbikies

    very nice post
    laptop-notebook