2008-09-02

Electric Car Business Model


Recently Wired profiled Shai Agassi and his company, Better Place.

The company is pushing electic cars and is working on a pilot rpogram in Israel and Denmark.  What makes things different is that he approaches is like the cell phone model. The plan is not to make money selling cars; it's to make money selling subscriptions to battery charging stations and battery swap facilities.
Speaking without notes, Agassi roams the stage, preaching the inevitability of his plan. He has a way of describing things that is never zero-sum; everybody wins in his version of the future, even when he's selling massive disruption.

"For the car companies, we made it simple," he says. "We separated the ownership of the car and the ownership of the battery. See, car companies don't know how to assess the life of the battery. So they go through these complicated programs of testing them for a long period of time. And we told the car company, you know what? Just like you don't sell a car with a card that says 'Here is oil for the life of the car,' you don't sell cars with the batteries for the life of the car, because the battery is crude oil." He explains that his plan alone, once scaled up, could produce a 20 percent drop in the world's CO2emissions. And he wasn't stopping there. "If we also buy clean generation, we reduce the price of clean electrons so that at the end of 10 years, clean electrons are cheaper than coal-based electrons, and nobody builds another coal plant at that point. That's another 40 percent of CO2 emissions; that's the treaty Tony Blair is now working to get for the world by 2050. I'm telling you, we can get there a decade after we finish the car side. We can get there in 2030—60 percent reduction in our CO2 emissions."

It's a great story.  I don't know if it will work, but it is refreshing to see new, potentially plausible ideas and business models in this space.

You can read the whole article here.


3 comments:

Rachel said...

It's refreshing to see genuine research and a clear path to practical application in this age when too many half-thought out ideas are being pushed into policy in the name of environmentalism.

*lynne* said...

sounds like the best idea in a long long while... :)

Book Calendar said...

It is a rather intereseting idea. However, it has some glaring holes. Lets say you give the person the steep discount on an electric car, then the person figures out how to hook up a solar panel to the roof of his garage, or put in a rotary wind turbine, the kind without blades on top of a house and bypass the plug. He gets a car, then suddenly stops paying for the electricity... I can see some israelis maybe with a generator in their backyard run on vegetable oil powering up their electric cars then not going to the pump...