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Shai Agassi’s Electric Cars Innitiative – My Comments September 27, 2008

Posted by IntimatePower in technology.
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Shai Agassi, founder of Project Better Place, is setting up an infrastructure that will allow people to switch to an advanced electric car, to charge it while they are at home, at work, or in the shopping mall, and, if they can’t wait to charge it, they can pull into a charging station and have the battery replaced with a fully charged one.

Agassi offers something similar to mobile phone operators – Subscribe to my electricity for a few years and get the car for free.

He already has Israel and Denmark as test countries, and is aiming at the US.

Check out Wired’s profile of Agassi, and a video presentation of his vision on youtube.

As much as I like the initiative, I do see a few issues in Agassi’s plan:

  1. What with all the other electric car manufacturers ?
    Will agassi open up his network and provide charging to their car models ?
  2. What about current competing technologies of batteries ?
    Would all the car manufactures need to adhere to the same standard ?
  3. Is better place the only entity involved in setting up the standard ?
  4. What if, as battery technology advances, it will be possible to safely and conveniently fully charge the battery in a few minutes, and have it last for 100s of miles ? Would we still need all the infrastructure ?
  5. Independence, Choice – Why not allow every car owner to plug the car straight into the wall, without needing a fancy charging unit ?
    When I go to visit my friend who lives out of town, I’d like to be able to charge my car during the time that I’m there.
  6. On a larger scale, why not allow competition on the electric charging market ?
    Better place can have its high-tech charging and battery-swap stations, but why not let others open basic charging stations with competitive prices?
    Surely competition will benefit the consumer, and will help the wide-scale adoption of this idea.
  7. Can regular cars be converted to electric cars, instead of being thrown to landfills ?
  8. Do we really need another type of private car ?
    Can’t this attention, money and energy be spent instead on public transport ?
  9. Is electric the only way to go ?
    What about cars using alternative fuels and energy sources such as Biofuels, Solar, Zero-point energy?
  10. Where would all the electricity come from ?
    Agassi promises that it will all be green energy, but is it feasible?
  11. Privacy: The company always knows where your car is – while driving or parking.
    What security measures are in place ?
  12. Availability – what if the local car computer or server or computer network fails ?
    Can we still get charged ?
  13. While I acknowledge Agassi’s environmental concern, I wonder if in the process of making the world a “Better Place”, his company might become the next ExxonMobil ?

Regardless, I hope that Agassi’s plan helps in moving us towards a more sustainable future.

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Comments»

1. kerry bradshaw - September 28, 2008

One overwhelming issue is why anyone would want to spend all that money enriching Agassi’s bank account for a system that offers no imrovement over the results thta can be achieved by a simple,
practical Volt-type plug-in hybrid? Agassi’s scheme maximizes the cost of batteries, which is one of the roadblacks (among several) to an battery-only electric car.

2. eyalnow - September 28, 2008

Kerry, I disagree.
Plug-in Hybrids are good for the medium term, as a transition to alternate-energy cars, but in the long run cars should not use gasoline at all.
Regarding Batteries, this is actually the strength of his plan, as the customer and the car manufacturer don’t need to worry about their cost and maintenance.
Agassi says that while an average gasoline car costs 60,000$, his car will only cost 20,000$ or even less if you subscribe to his electricity.
Let’s hope that will really be the case.


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