Better Place gets another big write up today, this time courtesy of the New York Times. Better Place, as CEO Shai Agassi describes it, is like the AT&T of electric cars. Better Place provides a grid, an infrastructure for zero emission autos to exist.
The company’s bold dream envisions it replacing Shell stations with Better Place charging stations. Even grander still, it wants to replace Mobile, Lukoil, Shell, Getty, Hess and just about every other company’s gas station with Better Place re-charging stations. Disrupting an entire network of well-financed companies seems a daunting task and unlikely task, yet at no point in the article did Agassi mention sharing his system with other manufacturers. It’s possible that others will follow his lead, but it’s unlikely. More likely, they’ll simply try to squash him.
For Better Place to work, Agassi will need standard battery systems so the charging station attendents can be work quickly — replicating the way Americans quickly refill their gas tanks now.
While it mostly envisions changing stations where we switch our batteries, the company also wants to “convert existing sources of electricity — like municipal light poles — into charging stations for consumers.” To do this properly would involve advanced metering systems so the public at large isn’t being bilked for a few electro-hogs.
That is part of Agassi’s argument in favour of his technology, though: Not only will Better Place and its system create a zero carbon world, it will also generate heaps of jobs for the US, as the nation builds recharging stations, and millions of new cars.
Better Place’s system is being tested in Israel and it announced a partnership with Danish electric company DONG earlier this year. There are plans for the company to test its system in the San Francisco Bay Area and Hawaii also.