Opening Better Place

Speech by the Minister of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation, Maxime Verhagen, Opening Better Place, Amsterdam, 3 September 2012

Mr Onidi, Mr. Agassi, Mr. Renaux,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Throughout history, man has shown a tremendous capacity to adapt. When faced with a challenge, we learn, innovate and create a better way of doing something. It’s how we have developed amazing technologies that have improved the lives of people everywhere.

Today is another step on the road to progress. Our challenge is to develop a more sustainable way of living, to balance the needs of the planet and the need for man to produce energy, transport goods, create jobs and do business.

Better Place’s battery switching station is a new and exciting part of the solution. It contributes to making electric vehicles are practical and affordable. It contributes to cleaner air and allow us to balance the energy load of our electric grid. And it’s a step towards a sustainable energy system with affordable, abundant and cleaner energy.

I want to express my gratitude to Better Place, the European Commission, Renault, Schiphol and the taxi companies. Your vision and co-operation have brought an innovative technology and business model to the Netherlands, which will boost the region’s economy and inspire others.

The Dutch government wholeheartedly supports your endeavours. You can help us achieve green growth. Like you, I believe that electric vehicles can contribute to a solution to today’s problems, provided they are adopted more broadly. That is why the Dutch government introduced a comprehensive fiscal package to boost the sales of electric cars.

And it works! We are well on course to realise our target of 20 thousand electric vehicles in 2015 and 200 thousand in 2020. Sales in the Netherlands are currently at 400 electric cars a month. A pretty good figure in the current economic situation! Especially considering that electric car sales are lagging behind in other leading countries.

Today’s launch shows how the private sector can help us turn that ambition into reality. Better Place’s battery switching station is a unique and necessary addition to our plans for our future electric infrastructure. And so are your plans to build more of these switching stations in the Netherlands.

I am also happy that a Green Deal for the Amsterdam metropolitan area will be signed next month. This is an exciting step that will unite the public authorities in the Amsterdam-Schiphol region, including municipalities and the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation.

It will help the private sector, including the car and energy industries, further deploy the required infrastructure for electric cars. The Green Deal for the Amsterdam metropolitan area will focus on diesel-operated corporate cars with annual high mileages, like taxis, vans and the local authorities’ own lease fleet.

By joining forces, we will facilitate the transition towards electric mobility in that sector. And we will help ensure sufficient charging facilities along the area’s highways. Thanks to initiatives such as this Green Deal, thanks to innovative companies such as Better Place, and thanks to effective policy measures, the Netherlands is becoming one of the leading countries in Europe in the field of electric mobility. Compared to other countries, our charging infrastructure is already well-developed. But we need to keep up the pace.

By working together, the government and the private sector will develop the market conditions and the infrastructure needed for a large-scale deployment of electric vehicles.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Better Place’s is helping us develop that infrastructure. This battery switching station is an exciting milestone. It will be beneficial to the economy, the environment, and society at large. I want to re-iterate my congratulations and gratitude to everyone involved in its development. And I wish Better Place every success with it.

Thank you.