Agassi thinks gasoline-powered vehicles can be made obsolete by 2020 if things go well in the initial electric vehicle test markets. To this end, Better Place is offering automakers, for free, the license to build vehicles that will be able to access the BP recharging and swapping network. However, Agassi says most manufacturers don't even believe Better Place will be able to sell the 100,000 Fluence Z.E.s that it bought from Renault, much less want to invest their own funds in the technology.We're fighting a lot of pre-conceived notions. The biggest one of them is that change doesn't happen. In the automotive industry we haven't seen any significant change in about 100 years. The Ford Model T was the only massive transformation of how we make cars, how we sell cars, how we service cars.
And suddenly somebody comes up and says we can make a huge change in the way we build the car, the way we operate the car and the way we price the car. And the industry says change is not going to happen.
For the past 180 days, testing for Better Place's proposed system of swappable batteries in electric taxis has been taking place in Tokyo. Agassi told Knox that, "if a taxi can work, anything can work." These tests are in preparation for the planned installation of the battery swapping system in three countries: Israel, Denmark and Australia. The company is a year away from launching the system in Israel where it has close to 70,000 vehicle orders, mostly with commercial fleets. According to Agassi, the first part of the Israeli network will be installed for $150 million, and further expansion will be paid for by the network itself. To put that money in perspective, $150 million is approximately what Israel pays for six days of gasoline. For more on Better Place's long-term plans, read this.