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Shai Agassi's Clean Car Vision
Green Technology

Electric car "charging spots," part of the proposed Better Place mobile operator network. (BetterPlace.com)

Electric cars have been kicking around the clean-energy conversation for decades, but they’ve been held back by short battery life and limited range.

Tech visionary Shai Agassi thinks he’s got a solution — and sees zero-emission cars hitting Main Streets in just two years.

It’s all about infrastructure: recharging stations and battery replacement bays blanketing the roads. Customers buying miles like cell phone minutes. Some think he’s dreaming — but he’s already got the governments of Israel, Denmark, and Australia signed on.

This hour, On Point: Shai Agassi’s vision for electric cars that go the distance.

You can join the conversation. Can electric cars break our dependence on fossil fuels? Is Shai Agassi dreaming – or really onto something?

Tell us what you think — here on this page, on Twitter, and on Facebook.


Shai Agassi is founder and CEO of Better Place, a green-tech venture that aims to bring electric cars with replaceable batteries to the mass market by 2011.

More links:

“Batteries Not Included” – a profile of Shai Agassi and Better Place in last Sunday’s issue of The New York Times Magazine.

Agassi spoke at the 2009 TED conference. Watch the video here.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

    I’ve watched the TED video, read the NY Times piece and I’m in. Shai has one of the best plans for the future of cars I’ve heard.

    So, now that GM is imploding, I’d love it if you could ask Shai what he would do with GM if he could influence what they do next? Could GM make a switch to building electric cars? Could GM maybe take one of its divisions and make this transition?

    Could GM’s engine making division(s) make a transition to making electric motors and drivetrains for those motors? What would be involved in changing GM’s infrastructure or a piece of GM’s infrastructure to build these kinds of cars?

    We were in the market for a hybrid but now I’m quite convinced that electric vehicles are the future and we might as well not go the “mermaid” route (loved that anecdote by the way).

    It would also be useful to hear what kinds of interaction Shai has had with the Obama administration and what that looked like. It would seem that Obama would be excited about the scope and vision of this idea.

  • Romero

    I think Shai Agassi is just a talking salesman, trying to make money from money losing ventures and hype.

    He has nothing to do with the Passion and Belief of Being a True Environmentalist.

    I looked at his past life…. shares/options/warrents has been trying to line up his pockets more than anybody else.

    Here at MIT Energy Club, we spit out dozens of ideas that are as sexy as his in just one meeting. Each one will be huge success stories if and when you throw money at them.

    Unless we tax the hell out energy, the only ones who will make money will be hype people at the recieving end of the venture capital; and people who write books and give speeches.

    Does anybody know how many investor billions (in hundreds) were lost in Corn to Ethanol hype and distillers? Agassi was pitching that investing in Ethanol would give double digits returns in 2007. Two years later, the looses were in three digists (100%).

  • jeffe

    Bottom line, electricity is created by the burning of fossil fuels. In this country that means coal and oil.
    We do have some hydro but it’s such a small percentage.

    My question is if you have hundreds of millions of people switching over to electric cars will this not just be more of the same due to the huge increase of electricity usage?

  • Romero

    Look at this interview with Zakaria


    Agassi does not say anything original and realistic “today”. Yes, 45 years from now, we are going to be flying by using to electromagnetic lavitation. So,…we should invest with him?

    He is outside of the automobile and transportation business and he is giving the impression that all those engineers and mechanical designers are stupid vs. the hype.

  • Romero

    If WBUR really were really interested in this subject, they should have brought in an Engineer from Toyota Labs who is working on 2014 versiou of Prius.

    Not this snake oil guy with a good Publicist with connections; and a bunch of web-site designers and a phoney business plan.

    This guy is a con-man.

  • http://laligallery.com Ed Cobb

    What does Mr. Agassi think about the idea of having robots at filling stations rapidly replace discharged standardized car battery packs with fully charged ones? Of course, the amount of charge remaining in the old one and existing on the new one would have to be measured accurately in order to charge the consumer properly. Regarding battery ownership and worn-out units, the concept would be similar to the current propane-gas cylinder swap method.

  • http://laligallery.com Ed Cobb

    Oh — just heard — that’s part of his idea.

  • Mike

    whats the cost to fix your car if it breaks and who would u go to

  • http://www.nbrockway.com Nancy Brockway

    Dear On Point – Please make sure you ask Mr. Agassi to explain how we will get the power to run. Today, 50% of the electricity in the US comes from burning coal, and we don’t yet and may never prevent CO2 emissions from coal generation. Only 1-3% of our power now comes from wind. How does Mr. Agassi envision us getting to a situation where charging up an electric vehicle does not depend on electricity generation that itself emits pollutants?

    Nancy Brockway
    (Former Commissioner, New Hampshire PUC)
    10 Allen Street
    Roslindale, MA 02131

  • Mark

    Thanks jeffe. My question exactly.

  • http://IndexBeating.com Joe Chase

    Great idea, however the largest investor in Better Place is Israel Corp, a company that primarily invests in oil refineries, shipping companies, and chemicals. They own 33% of better place, so they have a LOT of influence.
    And I agree with my neighbor Nancy Brockway, electric is not zero emissions.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Is there no worry that if cars go electric, asphalt will take over the world and ruin environmentally responsible water management?
    A solution would be to promote hourly rentals of cars, and I’m hoping Zipcar, a business that allows for that, will have electric cars. I also hope some of the cars will be really micro, buggies that park in microspaces, and able to use bike paths.
    Can we hope for both?

  • Eddy, Amherst, Mass.

    Right (to questions above):
    Where does the electricity come from?

  • jeffe

    Seems so obvious to me. Denmark is not a good country to look at in context to our country.

    Denmark is a small country it can fit into New England I think with room to spare.

    I think the money would be better spent on good public transportation. Light rail which in my city of Boston would be a good idea. Right now I have to drive a lot and I live 8 minutes from a commuter rail stop. I never use it. It does not run on weekends, it would take me over an hour to get to work. Right now I drive and it takes 20 to 30 minutes.

    Boston’s mass transit system is bankrupt and is run by cavemen. We have a late 19th early 20th century system that was never modernized. The whole thing needs to be redone. This of course will not happen. If they spent the money that was spent on the big dig on modernizing the system it would be the envy of a lot of cities.

    Toronto or Berlin is a model I think Boston should follow.

  • Mary Jo Warsinsky

    I only see another industry trying to enslave the consumer. Oil companies have held consumers hostage with gasoline prices for 30+ years. All I see is another corporate scam to encourage consumer dependence, then fleece them with high prices justified by politically-bought excuses.

  • jeffe

    Ellen Dibble, yes that’s one answer.

    But I think a Marshall plan in mass transit is needed.
    Before WW2 you could get around LA on trolleys and in most other small and medium cities this was the case.
    Then came cheap fuel and buses which made running the trolleys to expensive.

  • Mary Jo Warsinsky

    What are you going to pay those who switch out the batteries in 45 seconds? Sounds like a high stress, physical job to me. Corporate America has a record of not paying a living wage to these workers, but paying multi-million $ bonuses to hype-mongers like Shai Agassi.

  • Lilya

    I am convinced. We are investing with Shai Agassi.

    Two things we get out of this:
    Israel is ahead of us in this wonderful idea/tech.
    We don’t need the evil Saudi’s anymore, who fund terrorism with oil revenues, anyway.
    (these are sarcastic comments)

    Electric generation and efficient/feasible storage of small bits of power are vastly different things.

    Has anybody driven a toyota Prius (best battery tech + best hybrid car, today) for more than 300 yards with electric power only.

    Today’s battery technology is simply just not good enough. The more battery weight you put on the car, the more dead useless weight. Selling such a Hype in exchange with “invest with us” slogan, under the crude realities of today’s technology, should be a criminal act.

    All he has: bunch of spreadsheets, shiny demo electric outlets on a pole, web-site and hired public relations firm.

  • brad

    Shai’s opening statement of the cost to install infrastructure along the west coast being 0.01% of the total cost of oil used last year only speaks to the cost of installing the infrastructure (by the way-how many exchange stations does that cost cover? 100/1000/10000?). What are his cost estimates to travel the same mileage (traveled last year in the US) using electric (excluding the car costs)? What happens to the spent batteries?

  • mr.independant

    Lilya are you going to have anti- Israeli comments on all your posts? I thought you said you were told by the On Point people to stop. Please keep your agreement.
    An also to use this as an excuse to rag on Israel is complete BS. I’m tired of your act.

  • Gary Paddock

    He is a dreamer … who is “really onto something”!!! After having read books such as Hot, Flat and Crowded I can’t understand why the masses are not marching in the streets with pitch-forks and torches demanding technology such as this. It is imperative not just to the environment and the future, but our very own national security. This is a vast industry the previous administration totally missed the boat on. Research and development, manufacturing, installation, repair, service, etc., etc. – jobs, jobs, jobs. Don’t the “Hawks” and the fat cats in the oil industry see this? Obviously, you need the open-mindedness of forethought and vision rather than short-sighted, immediate gratification to truly envision this.

  • Bruce

    I see no reason why a ‘field’ replaceable battery could not be created. It could be a simple “slide in the side” battery that locks in place. No electrical connection until the locking lever is closed. No need to clear out the stuff in the back of the car to get to the battery for replacement. Faster than filling up with gas.

    The only problem is getting all auto makers to agree on a common design. Shai addressed this, but I can’t see the ‘stations’ having hundreds of batteries of each of a dozen different battery types all charged and ready to go. Right now, per his comment, there are 4 ‘types’ to choose from at the station: 87, 89, 91 and Diesel. ALL gas vehicles can use any of the first 3. If they happen to be out of your ‘usual’, you can put in one of the other two. All diesels can use ONLY that 4th. That couldn’t happen if each auto manufacturer had their own battery design and the ‘station’ ‘ran out’ of yours.

    My concept would be smaller battery sets that could be installed by the consumer at home in ‘banks’ like memory in a computer. Only put in as much capacity as you need for that day. Why carry the extra weight when you don’t need it?

  • Gary

    Did he say “Nobody wants rollover miles in an electric car.” … I see, the idea is that just like a cell phone the minutes expire at the end of each month. …So I guess that in his plan, the miles expire at the end of the month as well.

    Does anybody on earth LIKE the way cell phones are billed, and like it so much that they want their car to be under the yoke of such billing plans?

  • jeffe

    Buy American

    Why can’t we buy into Hype made in America, instead of 100% imported Hype?

    Idan Ofer
    Chairman of the Board
    Idan Ofer is Chairman of the Board of Better Place and Israel Corporation, Israel’s leading holding company and the Chairman of Zim Integrated Shipping Services Ltd.

    Moshe Kaplinsky
    CEO, Better Place Israel
    Major General Moshe Kaplinsky joined Better Place in January 2008 as CEO of Better Place Israel where he leads the charge in redefining the economics and experience of transportation to help Israel free itself from oil by 2020.

    Dr. Barak Hershkovitz
    Vice President, Research and Development
    Dr. Barak Hershkovitz leads research and development for Better Place

    Lawrence Seeff
    Head of Business Development, Americas
    Lawrence Seeff is the head of business development for Better Place in the Americas.

    Sidney Goodman
    Vice President, Automotive Alliances
    Sidney Goodman leads the Automotive Alliances group for Better Place

    Ziva Patir
    Vice President, International Standardization
    Ziva Patir leads international standardization efforts for Better Place in Israel

  • Bruce

    Lylia – “Has anybody driven a toyota Prius (best battery tech + best hybrid car, today) for more than 300 yards with electric power only.”

    Yes, I can get about a mile on one part of my commute – 25 MPH road, pretty flat. But you are correct in that the issue of distance is related to battery capacity.

  • Bruce

    Gary – “Did he say “Nobody wants rollover miles in an electric car.””

    Yes, but he meant no one wants to use the TERM ‘rollover’ in the same sentence as ‘car’. BAD imagery. “Miles that don’t expire” would be the concept. Having your cell phone roll over isn’t a huge problem :)

  • jeffe

    I did not post this anti-Semitic post, Buy American.
    Posted by jeffe, on April 24th, 2009 at 10:54 am EDT

    Someone is using my forum name.
    Whoever is doing this it is cowardly act. I think I know who did this but I don’t have proof. I am contacting the web master and if you did this from your home, your IP address will give you away.

    Who ever you are your a coward.

  • Felipe

    Increased Electric Consumption = Increased Electric Prices

    So, in a way, moneywise for the consumer, it doesn’t matter if we’re using electricity versus gasoline if we have oligopolistic cartel industries that collude on both the prices of electricity and the efficiency of its usage. Imagine an electric shortage or a spike in electric prices just as we have already seen with gasoline; and for such a shortage to be once again spun into new propaganda for economic & social manipulation.

    In likelihood, one of the reasons for switching over from oil to electricity, in combination with the conscription of countries by Western globalist expansion is to:

    1.] Deny Russia access oil-consuming customers/ countries by Western globalist expansion thereby making Russia economically obsolete. Not that, when oil prices drop, Russia, an oil exporter, hurts.

    2.] Oligopolize transportation-related markets on a global scale and convert globalized countries to the new electric standard so that, eventually, even Russia has to conform to Western globalist integration.

    3.] Israeli interests will profit the most from this if they can be the ones to first redefine, lead, and thereby monopolize the new standard in global energy consumption whether it’s with electric cars or otherwise.

  • Gary

    And two more points.

    First: I think the idea is feasible if you live in a dry, warm, clean environment like CA, or Israel. But all of these ideas usually fail when they enter a wet, cold, salt and dirt laden environments.

    But, perhaps the robotic exchanger will do a wash and dry of the auto’s undercarriage before the swap, but it will take longer than 5 seconds.

    Second: with limited range, how many “swaps” does one have to make to drive 200 miles?

  • Christopher Davis

    I loved ths interview and wholeheartedly agree that Shai Agassi is the “man with the plan”. Now let’s get started with a brighter cleaner future!

  • Felipe

    Two Questions:

    a.] Who would make the most money from this?

    b.] How would this new industry be regulated?

    *Correction to above typo:

    1.] Deny Russia access TO oil-consuming customers/ countries by Western globalist expansion thereby making Russia economically obsolete. NOTE that, when oil prices drop, Russia, an oil exporter, hurts.

  • jeffe

    The “Buy American” post is a clearly an attack on me and on Jews. I hoe the post is removed. I have my suspicions on who did this. The people staff of WBUR has been contacted and I hope the appropriate action will be taken.

    Abusing the forum to constantly put post anti-Israeli comments is not immature but offensive. It is one thing to be critical of Israel or any other country or government for that matter it is another to constantly use every excuse to post the above mention comments.

    Using my name was crossing the line as far as I’m concerned. However you are you did this to provoke me, however it was childish and shows that your not only to mature enough to be taken seriously but that you are also not mature enough to engage people on this forum.

    Just because this man has convinced Israel to run a trial of his electric car does not mean that it gives people the excuse to use the thread to make anti-Israeli comments.

  • twenty-niner

    I read about this idea years ago and its DOA. The Tesla, which a light weight sports car (~2400 lbs), has a battery pack that weighs over 800 lbs that is distributed around the vehicle because of volume constraints. Expect that the battery pack for a heavier sedan will way close to 1000 lbs, and even if it can be fashioned into single module (and the vehicle can support it), it would be very hard to swap out in 45 seconds.

    This will require heavy lifting equipment and most likely, access underneath the vehicle. It will also require trained personnel at a pay significantly higher than the typical gas station attendent. The typical gas station has several pumps that are all self-service, and they really don’t make money off the gas, which is why they want to sell you hot dogs and soda with each fillup. For safety reasons, there will be no self service at battery swapping stations. This plan just doesn’t seem economical.

  • jeffe

    twenty-niner I agree. Also the Tesla company is now heading towards bankruptcy. In a small country such as Israel and Denmark I can see how this might work, but here in the US not a chance.

    Mass transit is a better investment.
    Clean diesel engines such as they use in Europe now would a good option for getting better millage.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Whoever is posting under the name jeffe — I hope the site monitors have been notified and take note.
    People who drive a lot are obviously the main consumer of both cars and energy, but the 21st century smart growth plans call for more centralized town centers, walkable and self-sufficient, more communal centers. Partly this allows for fewer miles driven, hopefully saving the planet from global warming, but also it means multi-use buildings, residences nestled, ess sprawled. Where I live, much attention goes to saving wetlands from turning into parking lots or broader roads. Living roofs help but real turf is a diminishing resource. Nonpolluting cars threatens this plan unless the cars become smaller and also do not substitute for mass transit.
    Currently there are electric vehicles, I see from Hammacher Schlemmer’s catalog, that will take me where I need to go. And the problems are infrastructure, not availability. Partly there are rules of the road. You have to be able to go a certain speed, and you have to add lights to the vehicle. Since I do not have an outdoor outlet for the battery, nor can carry it up three flights, I inquired could the city wire the municipal parking lot, and the answer was yes, but it would cost $100 a month to park there, and I would take up space for a Ford. Then they backed out of wiring it.
    I am sure I am not the only one who basically can use a bicycle but occasionally needs more groceries than can be hauled that way, or needs to go seven miles, not two. In that case, I need recharging at the turnaround point, but there is no charging station. It sounds like A Better Place would not help me there, because the minimal plans described require a lot more mileage than say 20 miles a month. Just as with the phone company I pay $4.00 a month for NOT using long distance calling, I would pay them for NOT driving a lot.
    Just as after 1973 it was very discouraging to see Americans forget about the dangers of dependence on foreign oil, here there is a threat that easy vehicular energy will abort our moving toward a green environment. Cars are an important part of it, but given a world developing by leaps and bounds, all aspects of environmental preservation and energy conservation have to be part of the planning.
    I did hear on 60 Minutes, I believe it was, that lithium is available almost exclusively in Peru (which is causing the predictable conflicts over access), I believe it was, which seems to be in direct contradiction to what Agassi set forth.

  • Luisella Simpson

    Long live the future electric cars and long live the future fast-speed rail system, in the Boston to Washington megalopolis among other places!

    What a crazy thing, to any European or Asian eyes (and other), to see the “caveman” system which exists now (and this includes planes over short distances) in this megalopolis and in the USA in general. Obviously, a modernized rail system rail has to be implemented as a whole and not by different States. The USA, by deliberately sabotaging its railways, has accumulated a 100-year backwardness in this area. I trust it will, as a nation, see the light soon and then advance at its usual dynamic speed to catch up.

  • Brianna

    Bob Lutz and Wagoner’s most favorite word was “Volt”, whenever they were grilled about GM’s viability and financial health when gasoline was $4.50/g.

    The are both gone and taxpayers paying the bill for their mistakes in the past, while Honda and Toyota were working on making gasoline based cars better and more efficient.

    I have more faith in Toyota which owns the best battery company in the world than these talking points who want to get a cut out in dollars from every environmental wish list.

  • JefferyEco

    When somebody takes over Jeffe’s login id, he cries bloody murder.

    Even though it was labeled as Covardly Act, it was done to “just to make a point”.

    The initial reaction you showed when your Login id was sort of shared/taken away, was to complain, very passionately. You never thought of going into quiet submission and acknowledging Lilya’s right to exist (or use jeffe, which does not even belong to you).

    Imagine how you would react if some immigrants came over and take your house away in 1948 and 1967.

    It was made just to teach you a lesson.

    Apologies to Webmasters and members of this board, but we had to play such real life examples in order to understand each other.

  • Felipe

    NO, please don’t remove posts because others get upset.
    Put a 2 or some other marking next to the second “jeffe” to differentiate between the first and the second. To delete a post would be a slap in the face not only to those who agree with it but also to those who are impartial and/ or are trying to be objective. It would be troublingly anti-democratic to silence other people in our supposedly free society. What, then, would be the purpose of a public forum? Populist agreement & political correctness?

    If those are the names associated with Shai Agassi’s clean cars, and they are all Jewish and/ or are linked to Israel, those are the names & that’s how it is. Of, course, readers should always cross-reference. Please note, however, that not all Jews are Israeli; and that not all Jews are sympathetic to the actions of those who call themselves Zionists.

    It is popular nowadays to say that we need to get off of “Saudi Arabian” oil. Now, imagine if all the names associated with the development of electric cars were long-sounding Arabic names linked to Saudi Arabia. I’m sure that would raise some eyebrows too – because they are not American, they are singularly the world’s largest oil producer, and they collect a LOT of American dollars. But, in contrast to criticizing non-American Israeli interests, it still seems that it would be more acceptable these days to express distrust of non-American Saudi Arabian interests – perhaps because of terrorism like as if they exclusively invented it.

    Has anyone ever considered that there may be economic & geopolitical connections between Israel AND Saudi Arabia? Whether it’s oil or electricity that is used for powering cars… FOLLOW THE MONEY…

  • jeffe

    Not so Lilya or whoever you are.
    This is a forum with rules in how to engage.
    You say it was to teach me a lesson?
    What kind of lesson? That your right and when someone disagrees with you play childish pranks.

    Who are we, and take note webmasters, I think this is getting out of hand. Who are these people who think they can take over a forum and that every time the word Israel is mentioned they can spam the forum with propaganda.

    This has nothing to do with my view points pro or con on Israel. It has to do with how the producers of On Point who seem to be losing control of this forum.

    Posting the names of Jewish business people in context to this program and any program is offensive. It is meant to be.

    The people who are posting this are extremist who think that they are clever and smart. However they look like clowns to me. They have cheapened their argument by acting like 10 year old children and playing silly pranks.

  • Anna

    While I understand many of your comments (and agree with some), let’s all be willing to at least consider ideas that have been deemed “undoable” or too difficult or what have you.
    To those of you who questioned the veracity of ‘green’ claims when our electricity-generating infrastructure is so dependent on (dirty, polluting) coal, Mr. Agassi did point out that in Denmark, the cars would be run from wind-powered electricity; in Israel, solar power would “fuel” the electricity. So there certainly ARE alternatives.
    And while I am certainly one of the people who see the oil industry as a dark (though necessary) evil, if I want to think optimistically (which I am only just starting to do after all the false starts of the 1970′s), I can imagine that the fossil fuel people may POSSIBLY be seeing the writing on the wall, and would rather get into the next technology on the ground floor. (Although my more pessimistic side sees more nefarious possibilities, of course.)

  • jeffe

    Felipe your wrong. If the names were posted using an informed context then I would not have a problem with it.
    However this was done in clear violation to the rules of the forum. The forum is not here for the pleasure of the anti-Israel gang, which is what is happening.

    Sorry but this is getting out of hand, period.
    Points were made about Israel ages ago a program that was dealing with the issues. To do this on this forum about energy is absurd. Of course there are going to be Jewish backers, he’s doing the pilot program in Israel.

    This is not impartial. Sorry but I think your wrong.

  • Ellen Dibble

    I thought it was pretty swift and helpful to put out the names of the people involved in Better Place. To me, the name Agassi is more Arab than Israeli, and the names on the board were interesting. I was wondering where those hundred of millions of dollars might have come from. So it was helpful. I didn’t see it as pro or con anything, though I certainly see where posting in another’s name is awful. If there were several jeffe’s posting regularly we would learn another way to tell them apart. I don’t know. But the program made quite a bit out of the leadership of Israel in this, so it is not out of place, to my mind. I wish Iran would see its future in electric cars and battery production rather than nuclear as its hedge against oil depletion.

  • Frederic C.

    You can never argue with a crazy mindmindmindmindmindmind you ought to know by now. You can pay Uncle Sam with overtime is that all you get for the money?


  • Frederic C.


  • jeffe

    Ellen Dibble the problem is that the mere mention of Israel is now sending these people of on these rants.
    It’s becoming obnoxious. Also the context of posting the names and how it was done was not about this mans company.
    Who cares that he is Israeli or Russian or from LA.
    It has nothing to do with this program which was about his idea for electric cars.

    To use this space as ones own personal forum to make negative comments about Israel all the time is wrong.
    The fact the the producers of On Point don’t care about that says more about them than the nasty people posting and playing stupid games.

  • R.M.

    wbur, this anti-semitism is an outrage why have you not come in to moderate this forum ?. If you are not part of the solution , you are part of the problem . Everyone else please take note of this hatred if you really care …

  • john

    Are the batteries recharged at the filling stations? If so, what are the power requirements (in MW-hr/day) at such a station?

  • jeffe

    I do not have any problems with anyone criticizing Israel.
    Far from it. What I am objecting too is the the extremism.
    When someone posts that they support Mahmoud Ahmadinejad statements about Israel that sends a clear signal what they are about.

    The other issue is context, posting the Jewish names in this way is a clear message that because this is an Israeli backed and Jewish backed enterprise that it deserves these political attacks. Again I appeal to the producers of On Point to at least make some attempt at controlling this.

  • Mark


  • Frederic C.


    Even if there was a Chernobyl or two per decade, it won’t do as much damage the environment or contribute as negatively to our morbidity and mortality as does burning fossil fuels.

  • Frederic C.

    Also, going full nuclear would cause a oil producing countries to westernize and innovate.

  • Ellen Dibble

    If John was asking about the cost of charging electric vehicles, I can only say that the golf-cart size ones I was checking out turned out to be cheap if time-consuming to charge. The cost was comparable to running a couple of table lamps, as I recall.
    That cheapness, I thought, is probably why, as I heard on On Point (way long ago) that in London, if you drive a Smart Car, you can come into the City and have free parking, free recharging. I believe there is a driving fee which is waived too. I almost don’t believe it. I believe it was an executive at Lloyd’s of London, speaking about his wife’s driving.
    You should be able to plug in virtually anywhere you park, right into a parking meter, in my view. Agassi was saying no, a monopoly on providing this service was not such a great idea. (I heard the head of Google saying he was trying to partner with the U.S. government to do what Agassi is proposing — was saying that last summer.)
    And no to one auto-electric-grid provider because governments would have to step in to avoid the same kind of manipulation that oil-producing nations can now exercise, I suppose.

  • Mike

    Does anyone know what would be the cost to fix those cars if it breaks down, accidents, insurance? i either missed the answer or did not hear it.

    would u only be able to get it repaired at the dealer?
    or whats the guarantee for the car?

  • James Jones

    One of the worst cases of disinformation and distortions of truth I have ever heard…..one example….China may be a potential power in electric cars, so we should invest in electric cars???…truth is they will produce most of that electricity for those cars from really dirty coal….the biggest contributor to greenhouse gases on the planet….the man is a charlatan and you do the public a disservice by allowing him an hour of air time as if you support his position. Do you know that one coal fired electricity plant in the US (65% of the US generation capability comes from coal) emits more radiation than all 104 nuclear plants in the US combined…..?! But no mention of that by him or you?…..very poor reporting.

  • Ellen Dibble

    A major reason I don’t have a very small electric vehicle is the repair issue. The U.S. seems geared to ignore the possibilities of this genre. Here there are always a few to be seen, yet my suspicion is that the owners also have large vehicles, maybe pickup trucks, so they can put the little vehicle in the back and carry it to a shipper who sends it off to be repaired. It seems the manufacturers of big cars are squeamish about really energy-efficient styles displacing them in densely populated areas. And meanwhile the politicians are squeamish about the manufacturers of big cars going belly up.
    But even now, those who don’t need a lot of distance, a lot of speed, or a lot of energy could organize and say, we too have needs. We could say, Doesn’t some of the unemployed workforce want to notice? Do our needs seem as outlandish as the “need” for stilts? You want us to become gas guzzlers for no god reason? Or if large electric cars start coming down the pike, then you will want us to be guzzlers of other energy, the more the better. I assume we would all agitate fiercely for non-coal-based energy.

  • jan

    i’m sorry to say, but i do not see the US being part of this. they are caught in a situation where it’s impossible to get out and their economy will suffer for a very long time i guess.
    anyway, thee are plenty of nations who can adopt this system immediately. this will have a huge impact for sure.
    where the energy will come from?
    solar panels or wind energy. panels are getting cheaper every day and the higher price seems to be part of Agassis business plan. With the greater demand the prices will logically drop and cheap energy will be available for any need.
    it’s a law of mass production.
    just imagine solar panels undergoing the same innovations that mobile phones did. from a 3 kilo brick into your writswatch.
    now don’t say that solar panels are more complex than a mobile phone.

  • jeffe

    Smart cars from what I understand are not electric.
    Electric cars are a non starter in this country.
    To many spread out suburbs and if you live in a rural area your on your own. I am inclined to think this guy is a bit of a shark, a fast talking business man.

    However for a company like Zip Cars this might be a very good idea.

    What is needed is an investment in mass transit at least on the East and West coasts.

  • http://expconsciosness.blogspot.com/ Expanded Consciousness

    Audio for this show is at Odeo if you are looking for it:


  • Nissim

    First of all, Shai you are my hero!! and for all the people that are skeptical, look at your self in the mirror and ask a simple question. What did I do to improve the oil pollution and the oil dependency problem?. Did I walk more? did I use the bicycle to ride to the gym? Did I ask 3 of my friends to share a car? Etc, etc…..
    What we need to do is to encourage and push Shai to continue what he is doing. we need to be with him all the way. He wants to solve a big problem and God bless you for that Shai.

    Shai, I am hear for you and you tell me how can I help you and be part in your vision.

    Let me know!


    Nissim Lasri

  • globi

    Supplying clean electricity to power millions of electric cars is peanuts. The Teslamotors electric car consumes 0.11 kWh/km. If only one parking space of this electric car is covered with photovoltaic cells, generating electricity to drive 25000 miles per year is easy. (Parking area of 3m*6m results in 20.8m2 at 30 degrees incline. PV cellls with 15% efficiency and a typical sun radiation of 1500 hours per year will result in 4677 kWh per year or 42500 km = 26400 miles.)

    Facts about Photovoltaics:
    With the $180 billion spent on AIG and its bonuses, one could have financed 600 Oerlikon thinfilm photovoltaic factories, which produce 96 GW per year. That is 96 GW every single year!
    (As a comparison all nuclear power plants in the US have a total capacity of about 100 GW).

    And these photovoltaic modules can easily be placed on existing roofs: 120,000 km2 of the US is built. If only 10% of that area has roof area, that leads to a maximum solar flux of 12,000 GW or 1,200 GW at only 10% efficiency
    Btw, thinfilm photovoltaics can produce up to 30 times more energy than is needed for their production:

  • globi

    And as far as electric cars powered with wind energy are concerned:

    By 2020 Germany will produce 150 billion kWh of wind energy per year. One million electric cars require only about 2-3 billion kWh (less than 2% of the wind energy produced).

    Facts about wind energy:
    South Dakota alone has enough wind to power half the US with wind energy alone:
    And interconnected Windfarms can provide baseload:
    Btw, Germany exports 83% of its wind turbines, because it created incentives for wind energy before countries like the US did.

    Facts about transmission of electricity:
    Transporting electricity is several order of magnitudes cheaper than saving failed bankers:
    HVDC can transmit power from coast to coast with losses of only 3% per 1000 km at costs of €70/kW per 1000 km (transmission line only):
    China is already transporting electricity from its center to the coast with efficient HVDC transmission lines: http://www.tinyurl.com/abb-HVDC
    Needless to say, the first transcontinental rail-road across America was completed 1869 even before the Battle of the Little Bighorn and certainly without the tools, machines and roads available today.

  • globi

    And as far as electric cars powered with wind energy are concerned:

    By 2020 Germany will produce 150 billion kWh of wind energy per year (Needless to say that Germany has 27 times less area than USA). One million electric cars require about 2-3 billion kWh (That is less than 2% of the wind energy produced).

  • globi

    Oh btw, according to the Department of Energy the costs of wind power are between 3 and 6.4 cents per kWh. Average capital costs of Windturbines are $1480/kW (2006).

    New nuclear on the other hand has reached costs between 25 cents and 30 cents per kWh:

    South Dakota alone has enough wind to power half the US with wind energy alone:

  • globi

    Oh btw, according to the Department of Energy the costs of wind power are between 3 and 6.4 cents per kWh. Average capital costs of Windturbines are $1480/kW (2006).

    New nuclear on the other hand has reached costs between 25 cents and 30 cents per kWh:

  • globi

    Needless to say: South Dakota alone has enough wind to power half the US with wind energy alone:

    And interconnected Windfarms can provide baseload:

  • globi

    Also, transporting electricity is several order of magnitudes cheaper than saving failed banks:
    HVDC can transmit power from coast to coast with losses of only 3% per 1000 km at costs of €70/kW per 1000 km (transmission line only):
    China is already transporting electricity from its center to the coast with efficient HVDC transmission lines: http://www.tinyurl.com/abb-HVDC
    Needless to say, the first transcontinental rail-road across America was completed 1869 even before the Battle of the Little Bighorn and certainly without the tools, machines and roads available today.

    Needless to say that there’s still Solar thermal, Geothermal, Biomass, Wave, Tidal and most importantly efficiency: Denmark has a higher GDP per capita than the US and yet it uses less than half of the energy per capita than the US. It is cheaper to save energy than to buy energy.

  • Lilya

    …the man is a charlatan and you do the public a disservice by allowing him an hour of air time as if you support his position…
    by James Jones (has no ideological, ethnic and religious connection to any small country in the Middle East)

    First of all, Shai you are my hero!!…God bless you for that Shai…Shai, I am hear (should be “here”) for you Shai, you tell me how can I help you and be part in your vision….
    by Nissim Lasri (does have ideological, ethnic and religious connection to a small country in the Middle East)

    Seeee? how propaganda creeps into everything we discuss, …until we solve the cancer in the Middle East. This is just an honest observation. Please do not call me names starting with “anti-….”, OK?

  • jeffe

    That’s James Jones opinion. One that I might subscribe to.
    Lilya if this guy was Irish would you be making all these outlandish comments about the Middle East?

    Please don’t call you names? Are you kidding after all the BS you have been doing on this forum, give me a break.

  • Solbro

    There are a lot of things to like about this plan…

    1) energy created by renewables has to be stored. The car battery on a large scale offers a good energy resevoir.

    2) This clearly will diminish carbon emmissions by centralizing energy production for transportation.

    3) It uses our existing huge investment into highways and streets.

    But, it takes a universal conversion which will be possible in small highly regulated (and wealthy) countries. I would guess that the US will not be able to be a leader in this type of conversion. But, politics aside… we all should which this vision lots of luck!!

  • R.M.

    What a nut this lyla …your going to find yourself in an insane asylum if you continue with that hate …

  • Lilya


    Your story is getting old.

    Didn’t other people ask you not to “label” people; and I don’t hate anybody. Just pointing out facts that people are scared to talk about.

    Just as the Agassi example: Bernie Madoff criminal was protected because of his ethinic identity. Those poor elderly people would not trust an Indian fund manager so blindly and so many years. SEC would have killed such an obvious scam years ago if Bernie Madoff had Mexican heritage.

    He was protected with easy easy flow of funds, because he was a member of the untouchable class (just like Me and You) whose heritage has suffered in Europe. I am not saying if the “holy” protection is good or bad, it is just a fact; it is just we cannot talk about it.

  • R.M.

    ?????????? Can someone tell me what she is talking about?….(She must already be in an insane aylum) ….

  • jeffe

    Lilya if I am to understand you correctly your saying that Bernie Madoff got away with his criminal activities because he was Jewish. As I read this I an not help of think of the sub-text; “the Jewish Conspiracy” to control the financial markets. This kind of language is coded and the historical context can not be ignored.

    Lilya is now claiming to be Jewish, this does not dismiss the use of coded speech to make remarks that are offensive. I find the rise of the self hating Jew to be strange phenomenon. I have to ask, is this person the child of survivors? This phenomenon is more common in these families, or so it seems.

  • Mike

    Lilya, u as well as everyone knows r.m. a internet troll who likes to inflame peoples views.

    agruing with him will just feed the troll. u have the right to say what u want, just as jeffe, or anyone else so dont let people push your buttons or tell u what u can or cannot say(lucky enough we live in a democracy).

    But realize people will say things u dont agree with and have the right to say that as well. If u wish to show a conflict of interse for or against shai than show why there can be one like Romero trys to do.

    Naming board members can hardly be seen as anti-semite just as naming board members on oil companies who may have arab ties or money given by lobbist to politicans.

  • JefferyEco

    Don’t worry Mike. I have seen enough of these.

    Was going to get married to my fiance in Tel Aviv last year, only son of one of the richest families in Israel.

    The in-laws call the wedding off, due to my political views. All I did was to visit a refugee camp with some swedish food aid group. I also met with core Hamas people, too. They are nothing other than unemployed and self-disciplined young guys with golden hearts. They don’t hate anything and anybody; except they want back what was theirs.

    Even though my guy wanted disowned the family, as soon as I came back to finish my masters, they arranged three different supermodels for my fiance. They told the girls that I am a self-hating person and their son would be better off without me.

    R.M. and Jeffe can deny all the facts in the world, but it will not change anything.

  • http://petermoss.org Peter D. Moss

    onpointradio.org Friday, April 24, 2009

    Shai Agassi’s 2020 vision

    Shai Agassi sees the world kicking its dependence on oil with electric cars. On our show today, he named the year 2020 as the tipping point.

    Comment by Peter Moss:

    Electric cars are a diversion. First, they draw attention away from pollution at the coal/nuke/oil/gas fueled power plants. Shai very cleverly shifted attention to Denmark where over-the-water windmills will generate electricity, and then to Israel, where solar panels will generate electricity. But what about the rest of the world? In other words, the “clean coal” people, oilocrats and the nuclear generators are NOT going to replace themselves with “clean” sources of energy.

    Second, the environmental pollution from Shai’s spent batteries is unimaginable, and has not been addressed.

    Third, the world’s 200 million car park would have to be replaced.

    By contrast, hydrogen is the only clean automotive fuel, burning to water, and internal combustion engines can be readily retrofitted with an insulated tank for liquid hydrogen. The hydrogen can be generated existing commercial processes, by electrolyzing water to hydrogen and oxygen, and cryogenically separating and liquefying the hydrogen for distribution to additional hydrogen tanks in existing gas stations. The electricity for electrolysis and liquefaction can be generated by windmills.

    Please read the chapter on “Environment and Energy.” on my web site. I hope you will invite me for a one hour segment to explain my ideas in more detail. Thank you.

  • jeffe

    Mike and Lilya or whatever your name is this week.
    Naming the board members is not an anti-Semitic act in itself. However framing it the language that Lilya uses is.

    Context and how people use langauge can not be dismissed or just brushed off.

    Mike you made a good rational comment and Lilya’s response was to go back to accusations and to be dismissive. What I have to say does not count.

    However the story Lilya uses above, tells me that when confronted by people who disagree with her she attacks and demeans them to make them look like the bad guy.
    I don’t know announcing to your future in laws that your Pro Palestinian and support Hamas could be seen as a deal breaker, don’t you think?

    Hamas, the golden boys? No doubt some of these men are decent folks. Some are religious fanatics who want to rule with strict Sharia law. Such as outlawing music and dancing. Also, you being a Jew would not go down well some of these factions. You can deny that you are, but them, as to a Nazi in WW2 your a Jew.

    Please stop using my name, Lilya it cheapens your arguments by showing that your immature.

  • Rachel

    Ok, I haven’t read through this whole forum, please excuse me if someone has mentioned this earlier.

    Here’s how I look at energy, any moving object on this earth has energy, correct? If so, it is like a food chain cycle. We eat food, we get energy, then we can transfer our energy to something else. For example,

    1) In the workout gym– we put out so much energy, and wasted them, they are not going anywhere. Why not converting all our energy into the machines, so our workout energy can provide some watts for generating the electricity for the gym, then our membership price would go down.

    2) Europe is big on cycling, they have very good rental bicycle system especially in the metro area. Why not U.S. start doing this, and go beyond. Cities can install a small device in each bicycle to collect the energy generated from pedaling, at the end of the day, city will collect all these small device and plug them into a bigger unit, like a grid.

    Those are wild ideas we can consider.

  • Rachel

    If they can make such a good & safe battery for cars, how come all other batteries that are used for small device like phone, computer and digital cameras, their battery life are so short. And they are getting worse and worse when those devise are getting old about only 2 years.

    The industry has to produce better and safe batteries to expand their life and shorten the waste.

  • Lilya

    Jeffe, Jeffe, Jeffe

    Why are you so Thick?

    The reason why I posted something with “jeffe” was to show you that when somebody takes something that is yours without any compensation, it is natureal for you to be angry and outraged and want justice.

    If I were to offer you $2.45 you would still want “jeffe” to be yours; but for $100.00 you would gladly give up jeffe and use something else.

    “jeffe” was never yours, you don’t own this forum.

    The point is… imagine…that somebody took your family home by force in 1948 (or in 1967), how would you react?

    That was the only idea. How can you not get it, still cry over there?

  • jeffe

    Lilya I’m sick of your crap that’s what I am. Now you ask for people to not call you names and accuse you of anything and yet here you are doing it to me. Your a hypocrite.

    Your playing out your psycho babel on the forum.
    I think you need help, it’s very telling that you mentioned that you were jilted by your ex Israeli boy friend. Is the real issue here?

  • R.M.

    jeffe Don’t argue with her ,its not worth your trouble . she’s a nut . She claims to be Jewish but she is just a bus..tter who twists words to her own tune. Thank god that poor guy who (supposing) (in her mind) was going to married had a good family who stopped it in time and saved his life from her nightmare .

  • Brian

    Another well produced show Tom. Note that Shai & Better Place got some more free press in the Economist this week (5/2/09). It’s a positive article and amusingly, they suggest he possesses a “reality-distortion field” – which is quite appropriate.

    The real solution to global warming, energy, world health, national security, etc. is population control, but that’s another story. (Agassi is addressing the wrong problem in my view.) Massive effort that won’t change the world, sorry.

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