August 6, 2008

Project Better Place

Imagine living free from oil.

Picture zero-emission electric cars running on a clean energy grid. Governments, auto makers, energy companies and Better Place work hand-in-hand to make this happen. The result: our people and our planet prosper together.

This is more than a vision. It’s something Better Place and its partners are already building.

In 2005 the President and Founder of the World Economic Forum posed the following question to a gathering of young, global leaders, “How do you make the world a better place by 2020?” This profound question inspired Shai Agassi, Founder and CEO of Better Place, to imagine a world without oil.

Agassi drew from his entrepreneurial experience and insights from world leaders to formulate a business plan that applies mobile phone industry economics and renewable energy to transportation.

Founded in October 2007 on $200 million of venture capital, Better Place, in its first six months, announced cooperative agreements with Israel and Denmark to transform their transportation infrastructure from oil-based to renewable energy and significantly reduce harmful emissions.

Better Place’s model means consumers subscribe to transportation as a service, much like they do today with mobile phones. Auto companies make the electric cars that plug in to the Better Place electric recharge network of charging stations and battery swap stations. Energy companies provide the network’s power through growing renewable energy projects. And Better Place provides the batteries to make owning an electric car affordable and convenient.

And with oil out of the picture, transportation is transformed into a sustainable service we can all subscribe to.

The Renault-Nissan Alliance is the first auto maker with the vision and foresight to partner with Better Place, building zero-emission electric cars for its recharge grids.

Renault’s electric vehicle functions 100% electronically, powered by a battery developed by Automotive Energy Supply Corp. (AESC), a joint partnership of Renault-Nissan and Japanese manufacturer NEC. The first prototype of these vehicles debuted in Tel Aviv in January 2008.

In March 2008, Deutsche Bank analysts reportedly concluded that the company's approach could be a "paradigm shift" that causes "massive disruption" to the auto industry, and which has "the potential to eliminate the gasoline engine altogether.". Three months later, the same institution issued a second report, finding “electric vehicles destined for much more growth than is widely perceived”. The same report states that “improvements in battery technology will allow for increased power, increased electrical propulsion, and bigger gains in fuel economy.”
Mercedes-Benz has said it is in talks with Better Place about the potential for cooperation. The company is also reportedly engaged in discussions about creating electric recharge grids in the State of Hawaii and the city of San Francisco.

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