Revolutionizing the electric car model

December 10, 2008 7:32:40 PM PST
Better Place wants to create a nationwide network of spots where people can charge their cars through plug-in outlets or exchange their batteries.

"Think about our model as the mobile phone model -- we put in the infrastructure and the large automobile manufacturers make the electric cars that sit on top of our network and ride," company spokesperson Joe Paluska said.

Consumers buy miles from better place just like they would purchase minutes from a cell phone carrier like Verizon.

The cost: 6 cents a mile, compared to 12 cents a mile (what the average American is paying for gasoline).

Last month in San Francisco, better place announced it would enter the U.S. market, beginning in the Bay Area.

Bay Area mayors have applauded the move.

And just yesterday, the Japanese government asked the firm to join its electric car project along with other Japanese automakers.

"We're the only foreign company to participate with the likes of Mitsubishi, Honda and Subaru," Paluska said.

Other foreign countries like Israel, Denmark and Australia have also given their support, but so far none of the big three American automakers have joined in.

"We're hopeful that other manufacturers will join in the Better Place model," Paluska said.

Silicon Valley futurist Paul Saffo says it is a brilliant, out of the box concept, but it is also a huge uncertain endeavor.

"It's a big leap in terms of behavioral change and infrastructure change in the U.S.," Saffo said.

Saffo believes Americans need many different transportation options.

"We got into this problem because we created one solution -- internal combustion engines and we got rid of all the other options," Saffo said.

Better Place may be one of those options, just like the iPod revolutionized the music industry for many, taking the place of CDs; Better Place may do the same with gas guzzling cars.


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