Project Better Place To Expand to Australia
Project Better Place--Great Idea or Hot Air?We've heard a lot about Project Better Place, Shai Agassi's plan to make electric cars sell like cell phones. The simple premise behind the model is that batteries--the most expensive part of an electric car--should be leased to users for a monthly fee. For longer trips, electric "fueling" stations will enable drivers to pull in, swap their depleted battery for a fully charged one, and continue on their way. Of course, pulling this off would require a lot of charging station infrastructure, a lot of political buy-in, and a lot of electric cars. That's why we've also discussed some of the problems with the idea (see our reasons here).
Currently, Shai Agassi has "has commitments in Israel and Denmark and a partnership with Renault-Nissan to build electric cars with exchangeable batteries," a possible partnership with Portugal, and some serious cash to back him. Now, he is announcing that "Better Place [has] partnered with AGL Energy, the largest power company in Australia, and the Macquarie Capital Group to raise $670 million to help deploy an electric vehicle network powered by renewable energy."Agassi expects the system to be deployed in 2012, and he is hoping that "the project would be able to leverage the Australian government’s $500 million Green Car Innovation Fund. The fund is intended to help jump-start the introduction of electric vehicles into Australia, which now has about 15 million cars."
Whether or not all this comes to fruition remains to be seen, but there is no shortage of impressive claims being made. For example, Agassi claims that "an intelligent electric grid would ultimately be able to power cars at the equivalent of 6-cent-a-gallon gasoline." Sounds good, but the question is whether it's too good to be true. . .
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