electric car

Shai Agassi On This Month's Wired Cover

Electric car pioneer Shai Agassi is on the cover of this month's Wired, with a story on "The Future of the Electric Car." Shai's innovative and impressive solution is already underway in Israel, and the story is worth a read. Click on the picture for more.

Shai spoke at NDN's "Moment of Transformation" event on March 12. Check out the video:

Denmark teams up with Project Better Place

In case you missed it, from The Register:

Denmark has become the second country to sign up to Shai Agassi's ambitious plan to wean the world off petrol-driven transportation, with the announcement of a deal between Agassi's Project Better Place and Danish utility Dong Energy. As with the Israeli deal announced in January, the latest venture will involve mass production of electric vehicles and the rollout of an extensive recharging and battery swap infrastructure.

Speaking to The Register this afternoon, Agassi said that the Israeli and Danish projects were broadly similar in size and timescale. Both will see the first vehicles on the road next year, with production ramping up into thousands in 2010, by which time the fueling infrastructure will be starting to emerge.

Also like Israel, the Danish government will be offering tax breaks on the vehicles. According to Agassi, the average price of a car in Denmark is $60,000 (about €38,000), while the tax break could price an electric car as low as $20,000 there. So the Project Better Place formula for success so far seems to be to get the attention of a power company to provide the network, and secure the tax breaks that will make electric vehicles a compelling proposition compared to petrol. This may not play so well in countries that don't already tax motor vehicles heavily, and/or that have a substantial auto manufacturing industry.

For more on Shai Agassi and Project Better Place, check out the video below of him speaking to NDN on March 12th in DC:

The Electric Car Reborn

At Wednesday's NDN conference, Project Better Place, CEO, Shai Agassi gave an inspiring talk about what promises to be the next chapter in the history of the electric car. Shai is an amazing speaker (see video) whose story is just as amazing. The second in command at SAP where he was widely viewed as the next CEO, he left to found a startup dedicated to the simple notion of ending the era of the gasoline car. His key insight that electrical infrastructure-not the car-is the key to bringing the electric car to market was conceived at Davos when he was asked for ideas on how to make the world a better place. Initially he went to Shimon Peres to discuss introducing a car in Israel whose short distances, high gas costs and interest in reducing dependence on oil make it a logical place to start. Peres challenged him to find an auto company to build the car and financing for his idea. When he secured Renault/Nissan to build the car, and $200 million in startup capital, the Israeli government responded with innovative legislation that is being downloaded by other legislatures for study faster than any bill in history. The legislation creates a sizeable differential in the tax on gas and non-gas cars for ten years. As usage shifts to electricity from gas, the tax on both will rise to preserve revenues but the differential will persist until, the Israeli government anticipates, gasoline cars disappear for good.

Part of what is so inspiring about Shai's idea is its social approach. Rather than view the car as a technical object, he looks at it as a driving contract. We expect a car to be ours, to have 5 seats (though we drive alone, we want to be prepared for a roadtrip with friends), to be fast and to be affordable. All these, the electric car can easily fulfill. But one last element has been the holdup. We also expect to fill our car up no more than about 50 times a year and for the fill up to take under five minutes. Recharging an empty battery takes longer. By focusing on the energy infrastructure rather than the car, Shai's inspiration is to use a plug-in architecture for daily charges making fillups easier as well as cheaper and a battery swapping technology to deal with those rare instances when someone needs to travel more than 130 miles.

The idea has been generating such buzz that already other car companies are looking to join up. This is what they call game changing.

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