San Francisco enters Agassi's electric car dream
'Just do what Shai tells us to do'
The San Francisco Bay Area has embraced Shai Agassi's Better Place vision, announcing a "sweeping plan" to drive public and private investments in electric cars and the infrastructure needed to run them.
Today, at a press conference inside San Francisco City Hall, Mayor Gavin Newsom joined the mayors of nearby Oakland and San Jose in telling the world that their commitment to a "sustainable mobility model" would serve as a blueprint for America as a whole.
"What's happening in San Francisco and Oakland and San Jose will result in what happens in California," said Jared Blumenfeld, bossman for San Francisco's department of the environment. "And what happens in California affects what happens in the rest of the country." California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was not on hand, but he trumpeted the plan in a press release - and Bobby Kennedy Jr. turned up to represent the fam.
Kennedy - JFK's nephew and Schwarzenegger's "cousin" - is now a venture capitalist. His VantagePoint Venture Partners backs Better Place - the startup intent on treating electric cars like mobile phones.
With his City Hall speech, Kennedy said that Better Place CEO Shai Agassi would single-handedly deliver America from ruin. "[Oil] is the principal drag on American capitalism. We're buying a million dollars of oil a day from countries that don't share our values," he announced. "We can fix this. Just do what Shai tells us to do."
Shai Agassi and Better Place are already toiling to launch their mobile phone-inspired 'leccy car biz in Australia, Denmark, and Israel. And now the company has touched down in the San Francisco area, seeking local cash to fund the charging spots and battery swap stations that will juice its cars. "We've started raising capital in the Bay Area, much as we've done in other markets," Agassi told The Reg during a chat in the mayor's office.
The former SAP wunderkind said Better Place typically raises its capital from a mix of large corporations, venture firms, and private individuals. In Denmark, the big investor is the local utility. In Israel, it's the country's largest holding company - which also happens to be in the oil refinery biz.
Agassi describes his company as "Vodacar." And he plans on launching "Vodacar Bay Area" in 2011. In Israel, Better Place is already building its electrified parking spots - "think of them as parking meters that charge your car" - and Agassi expects that about 1,000 will be in place by the spring. For those people who can't spare charging time, the company will also install battery swap stations across its various markets.
The idea is that Better Place will supply your car with juice in much the same way that operators supply mobile phones with network access. Agassi says he will even go so far as to subsidize the cars - in a way. Better Place will, in essence, buy your battery. And you can save bucks by committing to more juice.
"You pay for miles from us just like you pay for minutes on your cell phone," he says. "If you sign up for a long enough period of time, you start to get a rebate. If you sign up for a four-year plan, 20,000 miles a year, you're going to get a rebate. If you sign up for 30,000 miles, you get a bigger rebate.
"Depending on the amount of time and the size of the contract, your electric car becomes cheaper and cheaper."
In other words, Agassi's free car utopia is not on the horizon.
What San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose have done is agree to facilitate Agassi's plan - though they haven't quite figured out how. "The three cities have to come up with a set of common policies, the same permitting processes and the same incentives for people to adopt these cars," Agassi says. "Once they put the policies in place, we come into play."
San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom was converted to Better Place on a recent trip to Israel and set about convincing Oakland and San Jose. But it so happens that Better Place is headquartered within, well, driving distance of all three cities. ®
They are so ahead of the times and will set a precedence in this country that is badly needed. I say, go California, Go Arnold, Go Better Place, And come on America, get off your duff and go too! The gas prices this past year have seriously damaged our economy and society. We must get on with becoming energy independent.We can't take another year like this past. Jeff Wilson has a wonderful new book out about the energy crisis and what it would take for America to become energy independent. It covers every aspect of oil, what it's uses are besides gasoline, our reserves, our depletion of it. Every type of alternative energy is covered and it's potential to replace oil. He even has proposed legislative agenda's that would be necessary to implement these changes along with time frames. This book is profoundly informative and our country needs to become more informed and move forward with becoming energy independent. It is called The Manhattan Project of 2009 Energy Independence NOW.
FAIL - EPIC FAIL
So now, all that California need is to buy enough oil to produce the leccy to fuel the cars. Oil consumption x5 to 10 as compared to oil-fuelled vehicles. Oil companies happy, mission accomplished. Or you could use (slightly, diy-modified) diesel engines running on crude colza oil, but it's not going to happen as there is no dough in it for the real masters of the US: oil companies. (and please don't begin the "food shortage" BS, it's mildly ridiculous when talking about ethanol, but it's completely moronic when talking about crude vegetable oil).
It's a park in a special spot and attach the hose system, it doesn't sound like you plug it into the house.
>How are these going to be charged?
From a thing a bit like a parking meter or by battery swap, it mentions that in the article.
>Through a big hulking cable that you will have to plug in between the car and the source?
Probably attached to the parking meter like charging station that they mention in the article.
>And where will you store that for ready availability.
Probably a hook on the charging station that looks a bit like a parking meter.
>And the charge will be good for how many miles / days of driving?
They're claiming 150 miles in the newer cars, battery swap stations would give you a recharge as fast as petrol.
>Only problem is that California is a NIMBY state
Charge the batts off state and ship them in. Demand generally motivates people on these things.
>FAIL - EPIC FAIL.
Is it just me or does everyone else think that people who use this phrase are complete witless morons?