Are Charging Stations The Missing Key To Electric Cars?

from the we-may-be-about-to-find-out dept

When Shai Agassi left SAP earlier this year, he talked about how he was inspired to do something in the alternative energy space. He apparently didn't waste much time in moving forward. He's now raised $200 million to try to build electric charging stations for electric cars around the world. It appears that the working theory here is that one of the things that's held back the success of the electric car is the lack of more widespread infrastructure to support it. There are gas stations everywhere, but electric charging stations are still quite rare (though, there are some). Of course, some might argue that there really are electric charging stations everywhere: they're called outlets. The second part of the plan is apparently that the company will own the batteries and charge people a service fee or rental fee to use and charge them at the stations -- lowering the upfront cost to consumers of buying an electric car. No matter what, this is definitely a "big bet" type of operation, and when you think about it, you could even ask if $200 million is even close to enough to actually accomplish the goal (meaning that the company is likely going to have to raise a lot more money). However, a bigger question is whether or not it really is the lack of these stations that are holding back the electric car industry. If you believe it's a chicken and egg issue, perhaps Agassi is onto something by getting folks to bet on building a bunch of chickens. But if the problem is that the eggs don't work right yet, then it may be quite a long time before the chickens matter. It would be nice to see this succeed, but it's a timing play. If Agassi is right about the timing, then this could become a huge business. If not, this could become another Iridium, with billions of dollars spent on mis-timed infrastructure, eventually left to rot away or sold for pennies on the dollar.

Filed Under: charging stations, electric cars, shai agassi


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  1. identicon
    Thinker, 2 Nov 2007 @ 10:18pm

    reality check

    Ok gang, did anyone look at who was investing and why? If you follow the model Better Place used for the biz plan you would understand they might be on to something! I remember the first cell phone I had, didn't work in many places, was way too expensive, but not too expensive to keep me from buying the darned thing anyway! The towers had to be built so I could talk when I wanted where I wanted because I was willing to pay for it. Today, where can you go without being able to talk on a cell? In under 10 years! Fewer and fewer places. The electrical grid is already in place, just needs to be tweeked to make this work. The investment in alternative energy is already being done on a grand scale and will be linked to the current grid in the next few years slowly eliminating the need for fossil fuels. And regardless of what opinions are about global warming, major companies are going green on a daily basis because SOMETHING is happening. If you look at the current Telsa auto and it's abilities, gee I think one could easily imagine an EV Ford or Chevy getting to the masses for a reasonable price sooner than later because even those guys see the direction oil based transport is going. And, the "big oil" gang is investing huge amounts in alternatives as they to have looked into the crystal ball! Sure, we could just keep the current transport model, pay $10 a gal in the next 5 years or so, not too much pain I guess? This IS the next big infrastructure build out!

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