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GE, Better Place Team Up to Boost Electric Vehicle Infrastructure

Better Place battery switch

Better Place, an electric vehicle infrastructure startup that envisions a network of charging and EV battery swap stations, got a big boost this week: a financing and technology partnership with GE that will see the two companies work together on technology development, battery financing, joint fleet electrification programs, and customer awareness.

The partnership makes sense—Better Place has perfected its two-minute EV battery swap system, and GE recently unveiled its WattStation EV charger for city streets. As part of the technology agreement between the companies, GE's WattStation will become compatible with the Better Place service network, which also includes access to battery swap stations (for those times when customers can't sit around waiting for their vehicles to charge).

GE and Better Place will also work together to boost EV adoption in Israel and Denmark—Better Place's first markets—with a pilot project that aims to finance 10,000 EV batteries in the country. The pair also plans launch a number of fleet electrification pilot projects, potentially in the San Francisco Bay Area, Honolulu, Hawaii, and Ontario, Canada, among other locations.

GE explains its involvement in the partnership in a blog post:

The work with Better Place is part of GE’s ongoing push into the EV research and product development space. GE is already working with advanced battery-maker A123Systems, which is a leader in the lithium-ion battery technology used in hybrid cars – and GE is also a venture capital investor in the company. Meanwhile, in April, GE and Nissan announced that they’re teaming up to research new technologies that will be needed in the car, on the grid and at home or work to make smart charging a reality.

So for GE, the Better Place partnership is a piece of a larger plan to dominate the EV market. And for Better Place, the collaboration is an opportunity to further spread the gospel of the EV battery swap system—something that many vehicle makers don't subscribe to (in most cases, batteries are included with the price of the EV and swapping isn't possible). With partners like GE and Renault on its side, Better Place might just have the strength it needs to make a serious dent in markets around the world.

Ariel Schwartz can be reached on Twitter or by email.