Commonwealth National Podcast

Shai Agassi: A Better Model?

Duration: 
1:04:59

Shai Agassi: A Better Model?

Founder and CEO, Better Place

In conversation with Greg Dalton, Founder, Climate One

INFORUM’s Next 21st Century Visionary Award

Shai Agassi wants to tip a $3 trillion market – the market for miles. Agassi, the CEO and Founder of Better Place, said he plans to end oil’s stranglehold on the global economy by offering consumers access to miles in electric cars that will be cheaper,and more convenient, than the gasoline-powered cars they replace. Most large and startup automakers are scrambling to make electric cars but Better Place is taking a decidedly different, and risky, approach. It is partnering with Renault and China’s Chery to deliver electric cars with batteries that can be swapped at new robot-powered stations. By taking the battery out of the up-front purchase price and essentially leasing it to drivers as a monthly service, he aims to offer electric cars that are at least $3,000 to $5,000 less to purchase than a comparable gas car and will be cheaper to drive each mile. “The price of oil keeps going up, the price of batteries keeps going down, the life of batteries is improving,” Agassi said. A few cars are on the road now in Tokyo and dozens are slated to be tested in Israel later this year. Will battery swapping take off? Will it flop? Or will it be just another niche? Agassi forwards his bold vision for the arrival of electric cars for the mass market.

This program was recorded in front of a live audience at The Commonwealth Club in San Francisco on July 12, 2010

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