When Sony Pictures released the movie, “Who Killed the Electric Car,” (http://www.sonyclassics.com/whokilledtheelectriccar/electric.html) the U.S. political landscape was much different, and Detroit had a lot more clout than it does today. The movie honed in on a very specific moment in time when the California Air Resources Board (CARB) eliminated the production of electric vehicles in the zero emissions vehicle (ZEV) initiative, and pinned the blame on D.C.-based lawsuits and lobbying in Sacramento as the reasons electric cars failed to achieve economically-feasible market share. I’d be the last person to underestimate the effects of Sacramento lobbying, but in truth, there have been two primary consumer concerns that have inhibited the success of the electric car:
· the cost of the vehicles is higher than comparably-sized gasoline cars; and
· the mileage range of a typical car battery is much shorter than the range of a gasoline tank. For lengthy trips, that would mean having to stop every 150 miles or so, finding a place to plug the car in, and waiting several hours for it to power up.
A new company called Better Place (www.betterplace.com) has the solution to both of these problems, and may be the “enabler” that finally brings electric vehicles into the mainstream. Better Place CEO, Shai Agassi, has led successful beta operations in Israel, Denmark and Australia, but as of November 2008, he started making waves in the Golden State, as he eyes California as the U.S. toehold for his company.
At a press conference in the San Francisco City Hall on November 20, 2008, Governor Schwarzenegger and Mayors of San Jose, Oakland and San Francisco gathered with numerous Bay Area groups and Better Place to announce plans to engage in public-private investments in electric vehicles and ‘green’ infrastructure. Better Place is not an electric car manufacturer, but could provide the necessary infrastructure with their battery “filling stations.”
This week on Go Green Radio, my guest is Jason Wolf, head of North American business development for Better Place. I’ll be asking him… if Warren Buffet’s new investment in electric cars depends on Better Places’ success; …whether or not we’ll need more nuclear plants to facilitate clean electricity for our cars; …how the geopolitical landscape will change if Better Place makes it possible for us to ‘just say no’ to Middle Eastern and Venezuelan oil; and much, much more.
The episode airs live on www.VoiceAmerica.com fro 9-10 a.m. on Friday, July 24. But if you miss the live broadcast, you can listen to the podcast later at http://tinyurl.com/kwnr9j.