Better Place Electric Vehicle Company Follows Cell Phone Buying Model for Cars and Mileage
Better Place is one of the world’s leading electric-vehicle (EV) providers. Next year the company will conduct its first cross-country road test, leading up to the launch of a new line of consumer-ready vehicles in Israel, Denmark, and Australia.
According to founder and chief executive Shai Agassi, who appeared on The Colbert Report last Tuesday (watch the video below), the company’s business model borrows much from the cell-phone industry. Just as cell-phone users can buy an inexpensive phone and pay for service minutes, Better Place will offer drivers an inexpensive EV as long as they pay regular driving fees. The minutes-to-miles analogy is quite telling: in important ways, the EV bears more resemblance to an iPhone than to a Ford Explorer. This is because EVs are completely oil-free. Unlike, say, the Toyota Prius, which on average reduces gas-dependency by 20%, the EV will operate 100% independently of the pump.
Essential to the EV is the lithium-ion battery, which can power the typical sedan for 100 miles per charge. Lithium-ion batteries can store significantly more energy and generate twice the power per unit volume than the nickel-metal batteries used in today’s hybrids. To ensure that drivers will be able to travel freely, Better Place will offer a ‘Car Network’—a series of charging centers and battery suppliers stationed throughout the country. This way, drivers will have the option of recharging their battery or purchasing a new one (both will presumably be included in their regular fee).
Though Agassi did not disclose plans to launch the EV in the United States, he did speculate that by 2011 a significant number of vehicles will be on the road worldwide.
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