Peter Bakker, CEO of the European express delivery company TNT, thinks Shai Agassi could change the image of environmentally responsible business people from “treehuggers” to moguls.
Tiffanie Wen | Jan/Feb 2009 issue
Shai Agassi, former president of the Products and Technology Group at the software firm SAP, wondered what it would take to get more electric cars on the road. Better batteries would certainly help, he concluded, as would a wider variety of vehicles. But what was also needed, realized Agassi, was an infrastructure that made recharging stations as commonplace as gas pumps. So he founded Better Place to make that happen.
Agassi’s plan is simple: Build a fleet of zero-emissions electric cars and a network of recharging locations, roadside switching stations (where drivers can quickly swap low batteries for fully charged ones) and batteries that can be recharged from renewable energy sources. Drivers pay for network use by the mile, much as mobile phone users are charged by the minute. Better Place is already working with car manufacturer Renault-Nissan and the Israeli government to implement a nationwide electric car infrastructure, utilizing solar power to help charge the batteries. Danish Oil and Natural Gas Energy is collaborating with Better Place to create a network in Denmark, too, using wind power. Another 25 countries are looking into creating their own electric car infrastructures. Seems like Agassi is off to a pretty good start on making the world a better place.
“Shai Agassi is a bright, young charismatic person who is not afraid to dream big. He left his former job with a dream to make his native Israel independent from oil and to develop a whole new business model for electric automobiles. He demonstrates how environmentally conscious behavior can be moved away from the ‘treehugger’ image and turned into a very interesting business opportunity.”
— Peter Bakker, CEO of the European express delivery company TNT.