I came across Agassi’s talk on YouTube and thought he made an extremely bright presentation on his vision and the path the company went through for getting the project off the ground. Four pillars came together for this to happen: cars, policy, network and money.
Watch the video as it depicts each of the four elements:
The big question posed by Israel was – “How do you run an entire country with no oil using technologies that we have today, with no subsidies in time frame of 2-3 years?
Element 1- Government sets goal to get off oil. they put a policy in place that creates a tax differential between gasoline cars and electricity powered cars. The government is committed to raise the tax on gas operated cars to a point where it will become less economical to drive a car that is not electric.
Element 2 – Corporate manufacturer commitment. PBB partners with the only CEO in the car indusrty that controls two seperate car companies. Interestingly, the man was Carlos Ghosn, the CEO of Renault and Nissan, who was raised in Lebanon. Renault and Nissan are committed to build zero oil cars that are fast, in different designs, with the capability to go over 100 miles with a single charge. The care will go through the entire production cycle. 2009 the cars will be in production. 2011 the cars will be in mass production, meaning supply meets demand.
Element 3 – Create a charging infrastructure. Agassi draws a great parallel – If Renault is Nokia, Project Better Place is AT&T. The Infrastructure. The electric cars will not be convenient until people will be able to get charges in every parking spot. You go into a car-wash like experience, drop the battery and get a new one. PBB buys the battery, so you have no risk. There’s no credit card passing, there is a SIM inside the car.
Element 3.1 – Innovative Pricing Model. In the cellphone industry, if you buy a phone by itself, you’re going to pay full price but if you commit to a plan with the carrier, you’ll get a significant discount. It’s not that different with electric cars – sign up for a 4 year plan – you get an electric car, a Sedan for FREE to drive for 4 years. Want additional flexibility and unlimited miles? pay $50 extra a month and get a Metro-PCS like deal, drive all you want.
The new model is called Zero-Zero: 0 emissions, $0 to drive off the lot.
Element 4 – Seed capital for charging infrastructure. PBB raised $200 million in seed capital from the private sector to put the infrastructure in the ground in two countries: Denmark and Israel.
Israel (and the world) needs more entrepreneurs like Shai who bring not only great vision, but also effective execution.