Better Place today announced that it is taking another step forward in Europe by bringing its award-winning electric car network solution, beginning with the launch of a marque electric taxi project at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. The company also announced the appointment of Paul Harms as CEO of Better Place Netherlands. Harms previously served as CEO of Athlon Netherlands and as an Executive Vice President of Athlon Car Leasing International.
“We’re thrilled that Paul has joined the Better Place team to lead and expand this project going forward,” said Shai Agassi, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Better Place. “And we’re grateful for the support of the European Commission, the Dutch and Danish governments, Schiphol, Renault, and all of our partners in making this project happen in less than 18 months. We’re determined to demonstrate to Europe that electric cars can drive any distance in any country and aren’t just limited to short-distance driving.” Maxime Verhagen, Minister of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation, presided over the official ribbon-cutting ceremony. Minister Verhagen was joined on stage by Jos Nijhuis, Schiphol Group President and CEO, Olivier Onidi, Directorate General for Mobility and Transport at the European Commission, and Jean-Paul Renaux, Managing Director Renault Netherlands. Better Place Founder and CEO Shai Agassi, along with Netherlands CEO Paul Harms, hosted the group.
Awarded last year, the project consortium, “Greening European Transportation Infrastructure for Electric Vehicles,” is the first-ever, decarbonization infrastructure project co-financed by the European Union’s TEN-T program. The Battery Switch Station was built in partnership with Amsterdam Airport Schiphol and will initially serve 10 Renault Fluence Z.E. taxis operated by three leading Dutch taxi companies – Connexxion, Bios and TCA. The Schiphol station is exclusively dedicated for the use of the Renault Fluence Z.E. electric taxis at this time.
Better Place also announced that it will expand the Schiphol showcase to include a second Battery Switch Station in Amsterdam, which will increase the service area for the first group of electric taxis.
The Schiphol-Amsterdam corridor is one of the most demanding routes in the world with more than 700,000 taxi trips originating from Schiphol each year. Applying battery switch technology to electric taxis allows them to operate virtually around the clock without the need to stop, plug in, and charge. The project showcases that with the right solution, high usage vehicles such as taxis can make the switch to electric cars.
On average, Dutch consumers drive around 15,000 kilometers each year, with a large segment of business users that drive around 30,000 kilometers on average, making The Netherlands one of the most attractive markets for electric kilometers in Europe.
While this is just the beginning for Better Place Netherlands, the company is already proving that its model works today in its first markets – Israel and Denmark.
The company recently completed an historic “lap” around Israel by driving the Renault Fluence Z.E. 1,150 KM in 16 hours – without stopping to charge. Instead, the team leveraged the Better Place network of Battery Switch Stations around the country by switching the battery along the way.
In Denmark, a Better Place network of five Battery Switch Stations now connects Copenhagen to Aarhus, allowing Danish drivers to complete one of the most important routes in the country. Thirteen more Switch Stations will be completed by year’s end.
In both markets, drivers of more than 500 Renault Fluence Z.E. electric cars with switchable batteries have driven more than three million electric kilometres to date. In fact, Better Place has delivered more Renault Fluence Z.E.s in Israel year-to-date than in all of France, thanks to the Better Place network.
Better Place is backed by a world-class group of investors including HSBC and Israel Corp. that are fully dedicated to the company’s long-term success and view Better Place as a long-term, transformational investment in their portfolio. The company has raised more than $750 million of equity financing to date. Last week, Better Place announced its first-ever credit facility from a financial institution – a €40 million loan from the European Investment Bank.
About Better Place Better Place is the leading global provider of electric car networks that enables the mass market adoption of electric cars through an innovative battery switch model that makes driving electric cars more affordable, convenient and sustainable than today’s petrol-based cars. Better Place owns and operates a network of battery switch stations and public/personal charge spots, along with the supply of batteries that power the cars, to provide drivers with instant range extension and the convenience to drive, switch and go across an entire region. Where possible, Better Place uses renewable sources of energy to deliver fully zero emissions driving. The World Economic Forum has named Better Place a “Global Growth Company Industry Shaper” for its innovative approach in advancing the global switch to electric cars. Check out www.betterplace.com