Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not an Insider? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

Kevin Bullis

A View from Kevin Bullis

Better Place Raises $350 Million

A massive financing round gives the startup’s unusual plan for EVs a stamp of approval.

  • January 25, 2010

Better Place, a startup with plans to install widespread charging infrastructure to make electric vehicles more practical, announced today that it had pulled in a massive $350 million in second-round financing.

“The deal marks one of the largest clean tech investments in history and values Better Place at $1.25 billion,” the Palo Alto, CA-based company said in a statement.

The financing is a major endorsement of the company’s approach to overcoming the limited range of electric vehicles. Another approach, taken by GM for example, is to include a gasoline powered engine for longer trips. But Better Place intends to install a network of charging stations paired with a network of battery swap stations.

Ubiquitous charging stations will keep batteries topped off, since most of the time cars are parked. For longer trips, battery swap stations will allow drivers to exchange a depleted battery for a charged one in less time than it would take to fill a gas tank. Better Place also has a financing model for electric cars that’s similar to cell phone plans. Drivers pay a monthly fee according to how many miles they’d like to drive, much as cell phone users pay for minutes. This system would be used to distribute the cost of batteries over the life of the car.

But critics have pointed out that such swapping stations could be unmanageable if manufacturers use many different types of batteries (they’d have to keep too many different types of batteries on hand). What’s more, they’d still require drivers to stop every hundred miles or so, far more often than with gasoline cars. The solution, then, might be well-suited for small countries, where trips are short (such as Israel or Japan) but not the United States.

Meanwhile, others are developing similar models without Better Place, such as Nissan, which is cutting out the middle man by working directly with cities and utilities to develop charging infrastructure for its planned electric vehicles. It is also developing novel financing plans to distribute the cost of the battery.

Tech Obsessive?
Become an Insider to get the story behind the story — and before anyone else.

Subscribe today
More from Sustainable Energy

Can we sustainably provide food, water, and energy to a growing population during a climate crisis?

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe and become an Insider.
  • Insider Plus {! insider.prices.plus !}* Best Value

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Everything included in Insider Basic, plus the digital magazine, extensive archive, ad-free web experience, and discounts to partner offerings and MIT Technology Review events.

    See details+

    Print + Digital Magazine (6 bi-monthly issues)

    Unlimited online access including all articles, multimedia, and more

    The Download newsletter with top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox

    Technology Review PDF magazine archive, including articles, images, and covers dating back to 1899

    10% Discount to MIT Technology Review events and MIT Press

    Ad-free website experience

  • Insider Basic {! insider.prices.basic !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Six issues of our award winning print magazine, unlimited online access plus The Download with the top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox.

    See details+

    Print Magazine (6 bi-monthly issues)

    Unlimited online access including all articles, multimedia, and more

    The Download newsletter with top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox

  • Insider Online Only {! insider.prices.online !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Unlimited online access including articles and video, plus The Download with the top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox.

    See details+

    Unlimited online access including all articles, multimedia, and more

    The Download newsletter with top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox

/3
You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. This is your last free article this month. for unlimited online access. You've read all your free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for more, or for unlimited online access. for two more free articles, or for unlimited online access.