Israeli entrepreneur Shai Agassi has begun rolling out the world's first nationwide electric car network. Now, will the drivers come?
After more than $400 million in outlays and months behind schedule, dozens of electric cars have hit the road in Israel, the test site Agassi chose for his Better Place venture. Four stations where the cars can get a new dose of juice when their batteries run out are operating, and the plan is to ramp that number up within months.
The concept: to wean the world from oil and eliminate the biggest hurdles to environmentally friendly electric cars — high cost and limited range.
To do this, Better Place has jettisoned the fixed battery. Instead, drivers can swap their depleted batteries for fully charged ones at a network of stations, receiving a 100-mile range in five minutes. Better Place owns the batteries, bringing down the purchase price of the cars using the network.