Blog: Tony LewisDoes Better Place demise put EVs in a bad place?

Tony Lewis | 28 May 2013

Is the world a worse place after the collapse of Better Place? Probably not. Just a more realistic place.

The US$1bn venture, majority-owned by Israel Corp, filed for liquidation on Sunday (26 May) six years after it launched in California with the vision of a greener world that would drastically reduce its dependence on oil.

It was a laudable idea. Instead of pulling into a refuelling station to top up their tank with petrol or diesel, motorists would pull into a 'fast-drop' station where, in about the same time as it takes to refuel a normal car, a depleted battery pack would be replaced by a fully charged one.

I’ve seen one working. It is a slick, impressive operation. 

But if you were setting off on a 240-mile journey, wouldn’t you just make sure you had enough fuel in the tank to get there and back? My diesel Peugeot 308 has a comfortable 600-mile range and averages some 53mpg. 

There probably is a place for electric vehicles and Renault-Nissan executives keep telling us there is. It’s not in rural areas where the range is an issue as is the cost of installing recharging stations. And most cities have more than adequate public transport so you don’t need a car until you want to venture beyond the city boundaries, when an EV wouldn’t make sense.

The car industry has spent more than 100 years selling motorists the idea of freedom to go where they want. It will take a very long time to restrict that freedom.


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