Shai Agassi's electric car venture Better Place Inc. has secured a €40 million loan from the European Investment Bank (EIB). The company will use €30 million of the loan to complete the deployment of its battery replacement network and finance operations in Denmark, and it will use €10 million for the same purposes in Israel.
The EIB loan is Better Place's fourth major commitment from a European financial institution for the expansion of its European operations. A subsidiary of Israel Corporation (TASE: ILCO), the company is also backed by HSBC Holding plc (LSE: HSBA; HKSE: 005; NYSE, Paris: HBC). It has raised $750 million in equity to date.
Better Place said that in Israel, its first market, more than half of the planned network of battery switch stations is now available for use by customers, enabling drivers the freedom to drive across the country.
In Denmark, the company has completed the network of battery switch stations along the Copenhagen-Aarhus corridor, a key national route. The first Copenhagen battery switch station in the Danish network, and soon a second one in Amsterdam, are part of a de-carbonization infrastructure project co-financed by the EU’s TEN-T program, Greening European Transportation Infrastructure for Electric Vehicles. Better Place also participates in the European Commission’s sustainable mobility project, Green eMotion, which is part of the European Green Car Initiative.
Better Place says that in Israel and Denmark combined, it has more than 500 Renault Fluence ZE electric cars with switchable batteries on the roads, which have logging three million electric kilometers so far this year during the company’s controlled launch.
Agassi said, "After a comprehensive due diligence process, the European Investment Bank has concluded that Better Place represents both a classic infrastructure project and a clear step towards innovative low carbon transport. The credit facility gives us a more flexible, balanced capital structure that allows us to expand our operations without solely relying on equity."
Agassi added, “Our goal is to continue to work with European institutions and partners who share our vision for electric transport so that one day you can drive from Copenhagen to Paris in a fully electric car by switching batteries along the way. The Copenhagen-Paris corridor is 1,220 kilometers, which is about the same distance I recently drove in a trip across Israel in a Renault Fluence ZE, switching batteries without stopping to charge."
On the automotive technology side, Better Place participates in the EasyBat consortium, which is developing off-the-shelf components and standardizing a generic interface between the battery and electric cars with switchable batteries. The project will make it easier for more automotive manufacturers to add this technology to their portfolio to meet the European Union’s 95 gram/kilometers tailpipe CO2 emissions standard.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on August 28, 2012
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