Shai Agassi, the CEO of Better Place EV at a press conference.
Pioneers can make startling predictions, and that’s what Shai Agassi from Better Place has done in Davos, at a meeting of the World Economic Forum last week. He tells AP: Before 2020 more people everywhere will be buying electric cars than those powered by gasoline. “It doesn’t mean that oil is not necessary, but we’re starting the way out,” said Agassi, an Israeli who launched the switchable battery electric car concept a few years ago. And which we’ve reported on frequently over the last three years.
The problem with existing cars is the range of the battery. So Agassi came up with the idea of switchable one, that works a bit the same as the cell phone business – on a pay per use model. Instead of waiting hours for the charge, car owners head to station which looks like a car wash, and switch the batteries in minutes.
His native Israel is the first country that will go live with the electric car, with the first 5,000 cars and 56 stations to be rolled out by the end of this year. In 2012, Denmark, Australia, Hawaii and the San Francisco Bay area are expected to join the trials.
To date some $700 million has been raised by Better Place, and one-third of it has been spent on building the battery stations.
“In Israel, in 2016, plus or minus a year, more electric cars will be sold than gasoline cars. When that happens in Country One, within two years you will see it in every country,” he said assertively.
Bill Clinton is a believer in this prophecy: “Israel will become the first country in the world to put 100,000 all-electric cars on the road,” he said last week at the Forum. “Not the US. Not China. Not countries much bigger — Israel!”
Currently Better Place cars are being developed by Renault SA. The removable batteries would have a driving range of 100 miles, or 160 km. Four battery swap stations are promised along any route. The cost is expected to be about the same as driving a car powered by oil.
Read more on Better Place:
Green Prophet’s Maurice Test Drives the Better Place Car in Israel