The interview yielded a number of highlights:
- Agassi predicts that the car will cost around $20,000, more or less depending on how many features are available. With a $7,500 government rebate, that means Better Place cars will cost around $12-13,000.
- When you buy a car, you sign up for a miles plan. One option will be to pay a variable rate for every 500 miles you drive. This will be akin to paying a variable rate for gasoline every time you fill up. Another option will be to pay a fixed rate for a whole chunk of miles, say 15,000. A third option will be to pay a fixed rate and have unlimited miles.
- Agassi claimed that to break even in the Israeli market (Israel is the testing ground for the BP business model), he’ll need to reach 1% of the 2 million car drivers, or 20,000 people. He then said he’s already pre-sold 20,000 BP subscribers.
- The plugs on BP cars will be required to adhere to ISO standards. That means no proprietary size or shape for the BP plug; as long as, say, Coulomb Technologies builds their charging stations according to ISO standards, you’ll be able to plug in there as well.
- As far as how that will work in terms of buying miles from other networks, Agassi says it will be like taking money out of a different bank’s ATM, only with no fees. If a BP customer charges up at a Company X station, Company X charges BP. If a Company X customer charges up at a BP station, BP charges Company X
Better Place has been a lightning rod of both biting criticism and ecstatic praise. Some claim that all this money and infrastructure will be wasted once batteries improve. Others feel that we cannot wait to find out, and celebrate the fact that someone is doing something with existing technology.
Either way, BP is moving closer and closer to the point where we’ll find out one way or another. They just unveiled a battery swap station in Japan where a robot can replace your car’s battery in under 45 seconds. Agassi expects a mass market rollout in 2011.
Image via NYT
written by mliving, May 30, 2009
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