Better Place opens China’s first EV battery swapping centre

December 15, 2011

China Southern Power Grid (CSG) and Better Place, a US provider of electric vehicle (EV) networks, opened China's first automated battery switching station for EVs at Guangzhou's Pearl River New Town earlier this week.

The centre, located near a major shopping mall and auto centre allows owners of electric vehicles to swap their empty batteries for fully-charged ones in a matter of minutes.

CSG and Better Place signed a strategic cooperation framework agreement in Guangzhou in March, to develop EV infrastructure in China.

CSG is a member of the State-Owned Enterprise EV Industry Alliance which aims implement EV infrastructure throughout the country in line with local needs. It announced in July that it would follow a centralized, open, and government-led but enterprise-guided approach in providing energy for EVs.

CSG has signed EV infrastructure agreements with Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, and other provinces and now has 14 EV charging stations in its network, with 2,901 charging poles in operation, and logged 206,000 kWh of usage over 45,000 charge cycles from January to November 2011.

Led by founder and chief executive Shai Agassi, Better Place has raised more than USD750m of equity financing since 2007, the latest USD200m tranche coming last month.

The company plans to launch commercial battery-swap operations with Renault Fluence Z.E. cars in Denmark and Israel early next year and an initial Australian service in the second quarter of 2012 starting in Canberra.

As well as China, it has projects in development in Northern California, Japan, Ontario, Canada, and Hawaii.