As global demand for EVs builds and production scales so must the infrastructure. As a result, Better Place also named additional ecosystem players including Continental of Germany, Flextronics, Intel, Microsoft, and TÜV Rheinland as Better Place seeks to scale up global production of its EV services platform and infrastructure deployment capabilities.
“Next year will be an exciting year for the auto industry and for consumers as the first wave of electric cars hit the streets,” said Shai Agassi, Better Place Founder and CEO. “The industry needs to continue to overcome the obstacles of extended range, price and impact on the grid if we’re going to be able to deliver a better experience than what consumers currently get. Better Place is committed to working with existing and emerging players in this exciting new category, which has the potential to drive the industry to sustainable growth in the near term and beyond.”
Better Place showcased its EV services platform, which manages at scale the charging of electric cars and the impact on the grid, moments after Renault unveiled its five-seat, electric sedan designed and developed for initial introduction for Better Place subscribers in Israel and Denmark in 2011. Additional switchable EV models from Renault are currently under review.
To enable mass market EV adoption, the Better Place solution includes interfaces designed to support all kinds of electric vehicles announced and under development, thereby providing a comprehensive infrastructure that the automotive and utility industry can count on for the transition to EVs. It’s the combination of infrastructure – to physically charge the car – and the “information train” of data – which is used to optimize the charging and manage the grid – that forms the heart of the EV services platform.
Inside the car, Better Place manages the vehicle’s energy plan through an on-board computing platform, codenamed “AutOS.” The AutOS platform performs complex energy calculations to create a personalized energy plan for each driver.
Outside of the car, Better Place has architected a master data center, which acts as the “brain” of the network. The Better Place data center enables “smart charging” of all electric cars on the network by optimizing and prioritizing when, where and how much each car is charged. Doing so minimizes the impact on local utilities while carefully orchestrating the state of charge for all batteries on the network so that every car is “topped up.”
As a centrally controlled function, the data center integrates any data across the entire network including: the availability of charge spots and battery switch stations; the state of charge of each battery; the ability to harness peak levels of renewable energy generation; topography maps and traffic patterns; and driving habits and patterns.
By integrating the data, Better Place has a 360-degree view across the entire network of charge spots, battery switch stations, electric cars, batteries and local utilities, enabling an entire ecosystem of industry players to deliver a more convenient and affordable electric car.
Better Place Expands Ecosystem to Include Continental, Flextronics, Intel, Microsoft and TÜV
As Better Place readies for system-wide testing in Israel next year, the company identified additional industry players with global scale and cross-industry expertise including the automotive supplier Continental, Flextronics, Intel, Microsoft and TÜV Rheinland.
For the production of charge spots, Better Place today announced that it has signed an agreement with Flextronics, one of the world’s leading electronics manufacturing services provider. Better Place awarded the contract to Flextronics because of its ability to give Better Place competitive advantage through Flextronics’ global scale and expertise across the industries that Better Place intersects, namely automotive, infrastructure and consumer devices.
Better Place and Flextronics will jointly engineer, develop and stress-test 1,000 next generation charge spots in the field before deciding to scale up volume to 100,000 production-grade charge spots by 2011. Such an order will represent the largest order for charge spot production in the history of the industry. Better Place currently is field testing nearly 800 charge points in Israel in a variety of private and public locations including curbside locations, parking lots, shopping malls and private residences.
Better Place, which is an active participant in the global standards bodies, will demonstrate charge spot standards’ compliance with the world’s two leading charging connector standards – IEC 62196 and J1772 – in Frankfurt.
Better Place R&D is working closely with Continental of Germany and Intel and Microsoft R&D, developing the most modern computing platform for inside the car. Better Place is developing its AutOS in-car platform with Continental to produce in volume an automotive-grade head unit, which incorporates Microsoft Windows Embedded and is powered by the Intel® AtomTM processor. The combination gives AutOS the extra horsepower needed to quickly conduct energy management and planning calculations that form the cornerstone of enabling peace of mind for drivers. The always-on connectivity of the unit also enables the “connected car” to seamlessly communicate with all of the components of the Better Place network.
“We at Continental are pleased that we are doing our part to help Better Place on its way to success,” said Helmut Matschi, President of the Interior division and member of the Executive Board of Continental AG. “The connection between the car, the Better Place network and the driver is ensured by the head unit we will develop. We look forward for the start of series production.”
By building an open architecture platform on industry-standard building blocks from Continental, Intel and Microsoft, Better Place will enable developers to build innovative applications on the AutOS platform much like the innovations that have sprung from the Apple iPhone. The AutOS system works by tapping into a limited number of standard CAN messages that all cars use to communicate diagnostics by read-only, giving OEMs an easy on-ramp to plug into the entire Better Place system.
In Israel, both Intel and Microsoft also have signed up as Better Place “Vision Partners,” agreeing to transition to electric vehicles when commercially available in 2011.
“At Microsoft, we are committed to software and technology innovations that help people and organizations around the world improve the environment,” John Fikany, Microsoft, VP, Commercial Sector Industries. “Better Place’s vision for accelerating the transition from oil-based transportation to a sustainable mobility model will help to draw in a new ecosystem of players and innovations all aimed at fighting climate change. We view electric cars as roaming consumer electronic devices, which have the potential to move from niche product to mainstream, and we’re excited that Better Place is developing their solution using Microsoft technology.”
“There’s a natural technology intersection between enabling powerful, yet energy efficient computing platforms and the drive toward electric transportation,” said Staci Parmer, director of in-vehicle infotainment for Intel. “We see an obvious fit for the Intel® AtomTM processor in the Better Place solution to enable a unique, connected experience for the next generation of electric transport.”
Finally, Better Place also announced that it has signed a cooperation agreement with TÜV Rheinland, a global provider of technical, safety and certification services, to evaluate and certify the safety of the network as a first step of broad deployment certification, which will be standard in all Better Place geographies.
Better Place On Track to Deliver Globally as Demand Builds
To date, Better Place has signed up orders from more than 50 Vision Partners in Israel – representing a total car park of approximately 35,000 ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicles – which have committed to convert a portion of their ICE fleets to Better Place when commercially available in 2011. These fleet customers include the Israel operations for multi-national companies including Cisco, FedEx and IBM, among others.
In Denmark, Better Place is currently building similar demand among visionary companies. Better Place already has announced several partnerships with municipalities and a partnership with the local insurance company, TrygVesta, which will offer a 40% discount on insurance premiums for owners of EVs. For the UN Summit on Climate Change (COP15) in Copenhagen in December, Better Place will build a showcase to celebrate the EV as a scalable solution for fighting climate change.
In Australia, Better Place recently announced Canberra, the nation’s capital, as the site for its first citywide roll out of electric vehicle infrastructure in Australia where the company is on track for 2012 commercial availability.
In North America, Better Place has worked actively with local partners and government in Ontario, Canada, the San Francisco Bay Area and Hawaii to create the necessary conditions to foster a competitive EV marketplace. These three regions have made a commitment to accelerating the adoption of EVs through progressive policies aimed at consumer adoption, streamlining infrastructure deployment and in some cases, adding EVs as a competitive alternative for public sector procurement policies.
In Japan, Better Place recently won the first-of-its-kind project from the government to demonstrate electric taxis with switchable batteries. The company will kick off the demonstration in January 2010.
About Better Place:
Better Place, the leading electric vehicle services provider, is accelerating the global transition to sustainable transportation. Better Place is building the infrastructure and intelligent network to deliver a range of services to drivers, enable widespread adoption of electric vehicles, and optimize energy use. The Better Place network addresses historical limitations to adoption by providing unlimited driving range in a convenient and accessible manner. The company works with all parts of the transportation ecosystem, including automakers, battery suppliers, energy companies, and the public sector, to create a compelling solution. Based in California and privately held, Better Place has operating companies in Israel, Denmark, and Australia.