GE and Better Place have decided work together to promote the coming electric vehicle (EV) revolution. The two companies have identified four areas on which they will concentrate: “technology development, battery financing, electrifying corporate vehicle fleets and consumer awareness.”
The first of these areas is technology. GE and Better Place will be working to establish a uniform standard for charging stations. In order to do that GE’s new Watt Stations will work with Better Place’s charging infrastructure. In order to do that GE and Better Place will be working to coordinate their software and hardware on the backend so that EV owners can move smoothly between the two systems. Different standards for different systems will be terrible for drivers and EV manufacturers. GE uses the following illustration on that point.
For example, imagine driving your gasoline car today and only being able to fill up with gas made by one company — and having to pay a premium to use another brand. That’s what would happen without charging uniformity.
The second area is battery financing. Better Place infrastructure includes more than just charging stations. It also includes stations where your depleted battery can be changed out for a fully charged one. GE will be establishing a financing program with Better Place for the first 10,000 batteries to be used in swapping stations in Israel and Denmark, the first two countries to go “live” with Better Place charging networks.
Better Place has partnered with Renault to build EV’s with switchable batteries and GE is in a partnership with A123 batteries so collaborating on battery financing for battery switching infrastructure is not as weird as it seems.
"Almost three years ago, Better Place identified the transformation from oil to electricity as the last massive ‘digitization’ of energy, and a significant economic opportunity globally,” said Shai Agassi, Founder and CEO, Better Place. “Our collaboration with GE is another significant step forward for Better Place as we seek to assemble a formidable ecosystem of industry leaders including Renault, HSBC and now GE that can help us scale our model globally. Our team of partners is committed to accelerating the acceptance of electric cars as more affordable and more convenient than our gasoline heritage.
Third, the two companies will be working to “develop a fleet electrification package aimed at corporate vehicle fleets in North America, Europe, Australia and other places so fleet owners can enjoy both the economic and environmental benefits of going electric.” Get the corporations on board and their employees will follow. Not a bad approach.
The last area of collaboration is improving consumer awareness. Both companies will be working to impress upon consumers the economic and environmental reasons for switching to EVs. They also want to impress upon the public “the infrastructure that is needed so make that level of adoption a reality.”
The Better Place/GE collaboration will continue our march to a world of greener transportation. Since both global companies are working with countries outside the US that have already begun nationwide changes to implement the transition to EV’s, let’s hope that their collaboration can speed the pace of change here in the US.