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Better Place Plans to Make Electric Car Acquisition Worry-free

Shai Agassi's electric car network plan can be paid for in any country for the equivalent of just one weeks worth of gasoline use.

Published: 21-Mar-2011

In the last decades, technological change has transformed virtually every aspect of life, from commerce to politics to culture. Exponential technological breakthroughs, combined with new business models revolutionized every segment of our lives from mobile communications to health care, creating new industries and growth opportunities. Yet, in the world of energy, and especially as it relates to transport, we have not seen dramatic change.

If Henry Ford opened the hood of a modern car bearing his name he would recognize the basic architecture of the internal combustion engine from a century ago. He would also relate to the efficiency - the Model T he debuted in 1908 went just about as far on a gallon of fuel as 2011 Ford Fusion. At the same time he would recognize the business model, sell the car for no profit and make up for it in spare parts over the years.

Even before the Model T, there was a real battle in the market between propulsion systems; oil-based versus electric. Every taxicab in Manhattan in 1900 was electric -- with switchable batteries to boot. But soon the sheer abundance and energy density of gasoline, suffering from a sharp demand drop as result of electrification proved too much for early 20th century batteries to compete with. Decades went by without any investment in batteries and the electric car was sent to museums.

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