WIRED’s big article in its August issue was about a major effort to make the electric car’s future more robust. Shai Agassi has launched Project Better Place, a company that is working with governments, car companies and energy companies to birth a system that will support millions of electric vehicles. Not hybrids: fully electric vehicles. How does he propose to do this? By treating car batteries of the future more like the gasoline of today. In addition to being able to charge a car battery at home, Agassi’s plan is to have battery charging stations as part of a country’s infrastructure. Okay you say, there’s nothing new about that. And you’re correct. So how about this – the plan includes battery replacement centers. Instead of waiting to charge a battery, you could drive up and have it automatically replaced. Additionally, Agassi wants recharging stations where people work and shop. How would the electricity be paid for? More flexibly than gasoline: it would work more like cell phone plans, actually. Unlimited electricity, pay as you go, and the like.
Agassi has come up with a fairly robust business plan to date. He has agreements to develop infrastructure worked out with Israel, Denmark, Australia, and most recently, California’s Bay Area. He also has agreements worked out with Nissan and Renault to produce the electric vehicles. Isn’t that interesting: GM, Ford and Chrysler don’t seem to be interested in electric vehicles on a mass scale. But they sure want sub-market loans from the government, don’t they?
Agassi has developed some financing from the following: VantagePoint Venture Partners, Israel Corporation, Israel Cleantech Ventures, Morgan Stanley, Acorns to Oaks II, Esarbee Investments Canada, GC Investments LLC, Musea Ventures, Ofer Group, Vyikra Partners, Wolfensohn & Co. and Maniv Energy Capital. Project Better Place has raised over $200 million so far, with the potential for another $1 billion or more in the relatively near future.