Former SAP executive, Shai Agassi has resurfaced as a potential 21st century day Henry Ford, but with a green intent. He is moving from ERP and SOA to electric cars with his for-profit Project Better Place. And, he has raised more that $200 million from VantagePoint Venture Partners, Israel Corporation, Morgan Stanley and other investors to fuel his new enterprise.
Agassi's company is first targeting taxis and delivery vehicles, and will sell them on a kind of subscription basis. Pilots for the vehicles will start early next year and expanding to about 1,000 cars by 2009. Plans are to have about 100,000 cars for each pilot area by the end of 2010.
Another company, Tesla is developing a sporty electric car that goes from zero to sixty miles per hour in four seconds and goes 245 miles per charge.
“We’re basically saying this is just like the cellular phone model. If you think of Tesla as the iPhone, we’re AT&T,” Agassi told John Markoff. Project Better Place is developing the infrastructure to deploy electric cars on a mass scale. (There is a path from SOA [service-oriented architecture]-based ERP software to EOA [electric-oriented architecture]-based cars.)
Following is the Project Better Place mission:
Project Better Place will focus on the integration of existing technologies and systems to provide the infrastructure and scale necessary to make electric cars a viable alternative to fuel-based vehicles. By doing so, Project Better Place will overcome low adoption rates to-date due to the lack of an established and ubiquitous charging infrastructure to support electric vehicles.
Similar to the model of wireless operators and their deployment of cell towers, Project Better Place will deploy a network of charge stations to provide consumers with the ability to keep their electric vehicles (EV) charged and functional at all times. Project Better Place and its partners will also source the electric cars and batteries that will be compatible with the charging network, and will subsidize vehicle costs through leases and credits.
See also: NYT story