Shai Agassi Will Save the World With EVs. Or Not.

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

What the hell is a “random visit to Tesla”? Is Project Better Place’s Shai Agassi an adherent to the philosophy and practice found in George Cockcroft’s “The Dice Man”? If so, that’s not exactly a better way to run a car company (unless you’re GM). Or perhaps Agassi’s a fan of Andrew “Dice” Clay. If so, Shai should ditch the mermaid joke for something with a bit more punch. Elon Musk sat on a wall. Fuck you! This stuff writes itself. Anyway, Shai’s epiphany: a machine could automatically swap out EV batteries. Kinda like you do with, I dunno, a flashlight. Except the resulting eMiles follow Moore’s law, apparently. Which means EV drivers will be racking-up zero-carbon (a.k.a. “clean electron”) electric miles at two cents a mile by 2020. Did I miss something there? Agassi says this is “fascinating to most people.” Define “most.” [Skip to to 8:36 and you’ll actually hear a non-fictional sentient being say he’s going to save the world.]

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  • Carculture Carculture on Apr 15, 2009

    Whatever happened to driving for the thrill of it? I'm driving through Texas right now in an EV and am bored out of my head. Wide-open spaces and no way to get there... We're talking about a need for mega amounts of "clean electrons" to light any enthusiast's fire. What are we talking about? Five minutes to the next battery swap shop? I still think we have to get wind to generate hydrogen. I quote "Shai Agassi wants to put you behind the wheel of an electric car -- but he doesn't want you to sacrifice convenience (or cash) to do it." What about the sacrifice of the driving experience?

  • David C. Holzman David C. Holzman on Apr 15, 2009

    carculture, Shai Agassi has a dream, and like most H. sapiens, he's willing to kid himself on some of the details. I mean, having to look for a swapout station when you are almost out of juice? Even in Israel, they will be few and far between, so that any day trips beyond range will require planning. So much for the convenience of ICE. On the other hand, it might be OK for your second car.

  • on Apr 17, 2009

    [...] a bad start for the mechanism design economics: this visionary talk by Shai Agassi Shai Agassi Will Save the World with EVs. Or Not. is now implemented by Renault, with a startup in the Bay area (see INTERVIEW OF THIERRY KOSKAS [...]

  • Richard Taylor-Kenny Richard Taylor-Kenny on Jun 15, 2009

    Our paradigm of individual passenger cars as primarily luxuries is flawed. They serve a greater functional purpose now than they do a pleasurable purpose. Here's a futuristic fantasy picture: Automobiles would be considered modular items. The drive train would be scalable as would the energy source and passenger areas. For varying distances the energy source would be scalable. A more heavy duty drive train would be available to accommodate heavier payloads. Personal operator modules would be detachable and passenger compartments would be easily swappable. When using the vehicle for daily single person business travel a single or double person passenger compartment could be used. An individual would need to own no more than an operator module which could plug into ANY passenger compartment. His operator module is personalized and where possible automatically adjusts the passenger compartment, drive train and energy consumption to his personal settings as well as records his travel information and energy usage. He might own or rent multiple passenger compartments, drive trains or energy sources, depending on the need at the time. For primarily functional uses, like daily commutes, he would pull up to a mass transit source in his modular single person vehicle, detach his operator module from the passenger compartment get on to a mass transit system and ride it to the metro center for the short walk to the office. If a vehicle is needed during the day a rental vehicle is fitted with his operator module for that brief use. His drive train and energy source which were left at the originating station are re-charged awaiting his return. If desired, more luxurious passenger modules, better drive trains, energy sources, etc could also be available for rent or purchase. We shouldn't be buying the farm when all we want or need is a horse and wagon.