There’s Good News And Bad For The Electric Car Industry

Courtesy of Tesla

A lot of people have put a lot of faith into the idea of electric cars as a way of tackling the carbon problem, and in the last couple of days they’ve had some good news and some bad news.

The good news is that Tesla, a Silicon Valley based company that designs and manufactures fully electric cars, has started to turn a small profit.

Yesterday, Tesla’s Model S was given Consumer Reports’ highest score ever for a car in its 2013 review.

The bad news though, particularly for Australia, is that Better Place, a company which promised to roll out electric car infrastructure based on battery-switching, is looking distinctly unwell, according to The Examiner.

The company planned to roll out charge stations in several countries, including China, Denmark, Israel, and Australia. In Australia, they were planning to roll out 500 charge stations as a first step. In 2011, the first charge station was installed in Canberra.

Since then, only 20 public charge stations have been installed nationwide, and the company has shut down all operations outside of Israel and Denmark.

Carlos Ghosn, President and CEO of Renault-Nissan, the company supplying Better Place with its electric cars, was one of their most enthusiastic supporters . But now, he’s not so keen.

The Examiner reports that Mr Ghosn told Danish publication Energi Watch that switchable batteries, like Better Place’s system, are not the future of the electric car.

“When you look at the overall trends, we must conclude that the replaceable batteries [are] no longer the main track for electric vehicles.” Ghosn told Energi Watch.

The Examiner interprets this as meaning “the marketplace is choosing electric cars which rely on charging stations, rather than electric cars which rely on battery swapping stations.”

This comes after founder and then-CEO Shai Agassi left the company in October last year after months of trouble, followed by massive layoffs.

Renault-Nissan are not completely breaking ties with Better Place, but going forward, he said, their focus was on charging technology, not battery-switching.

With oil companies expanding their coal seam gas and fracking operations, the price of petrol has not risen nearly as fast as many predicted five years ago. That’s slowed the development of the electric car generally, and in Australia.

In the short-term, the electric vehicle industry is hurting as a result – especially bad news for environmentalists who believe that in the long-term, burning more fossil fuels could have a worse impact on the global atmosphere.

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