Brilliant and Exciting Electric Car Project

A few months ago I saw a video about Shai Agassi’s new electric car project – Better Place – and I still think it’s a very exciting and brilliant concept.
Our neighbor Denmark have already signed up for this and I hope it will also come to Sweden – and the world! – eventually.
I can’t wait to drive a zero emission vehicle!

The project/company started late 2007. I don’t know why have not heard about it earlier, to many of you this is probably old news.
If you haven’t already heard about it you can read more in this Wired Magazine article or visit Better Place’s homepage.
Shai Agassi is a former SAP top executive.

What I love about this project:

– New and easy cost model based on the model for cell phone subscriptions: Free or very low cost car, pay per mile. And get this: the mileage cost will be considerably lower than for the car you are driving today. I think this is key – there is no monetary penalty for consumers to go green, only advantages.

– Open standard – Existing battery manufacturers will be making the batteries. Existing car manufacturers will be making the cars. This means no strange new models to get used to. Nissan/Renault already have cars ready for production.

Only non-carbon, renewable energy sources will be used (solar, wind, water etc)

– The grid thought. With all the batteries in cars and Battery Exchange stations there will be a huge distributed energy system that can be used to fill up when energy is cheap during night time (ie. not in high demand) and redistribute it during daytime.
Eg. your car’s battery is fully loaded during night but your on-board system knows you will actually only be needing about 50% battery capacity so during the day when your car is parked and plugged in the other 50% of your energy can be redistributed to other cars or sold on the market.

– The grand scale and time frame. The ambition is to do this for the world. Already signed up: Israel, Denmark, Australia, California, Hawaii and Canada.
And this is happening now! Quote from Wired Magazine: “Better Place expects to have close to 100,000 vehicles by the end of 2011”

I also love this quote from the 4-minute intro video on Better Place’s web site: “Hi, I’m Shai Agassi and I’m the end of oil”

The biggest weak point as I see it is the cost for building the infrastructure.
But for recharging stations I’m sure the existing power grid will be used and for Battery Exchange stations I’m sure there will be an incentive for existing filling stations to come on board. After all, the countries that have signed up for the project have agreed to tax cuts for electric cars and tax raises for traditional cars, this in combination with the new pay model (free or very cheap car and low mileage cost) should be able to quickly move a lot of people to electric.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this project will actually work, it would have great impact on our co2 emissions!

Side note:
I can’t help but thinking maybe there is another motive behind this project too. When I read that Israel is the first country that signed up to do this I can’t help but thinking that there could be another great motive for them apart from the environmental: If this project succeeds and break most of the world’s oil dependence, as a side effect Israels enemies funding (which of course comes from oil) will also be cut off.
If my conspiracy theory has any truth to it I think this is a very smart move by Israel. And I say this without taking sides in the mid east debate/conflict, I think the sad situation there is far too complex for me to fully comprehend.

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