New Auto Battery Charging Network?

Shai Agassi, a tested Silicon Valley entrepreneur and proven big-bucks gatherer, has a plan to interfere with the chicken-egg problem with electric cars.

“[He] wants to deploy an infrastructure of battery-charging stations in the United States, Europe and the developing world.

The new system will sell electric fuel on a subscription basis and will subsidize vehicle costs through leases and credits.

“We’re basically saying this is just like the cellular phone model,” he said. “If you think of Tesla as the iPhone, we’re AT&T.”

He’s raised $200 million to prove his concept.

“In an interview Thursday, Mr. Agassi said tests of prototype vehicles would start in early 2008 and the company would begin commercial sales and service in two years. He said he was working to obtain commitments from both governments and carmakers.”

Interesting. But at 1 minute per-mile-driven to charge, it strikes me as being a tough sell. I can fill my Prius, good for 400 miles, in about 10 minutes. 400 minutes to do the same is 6.6 hours.

The second part of Agassi’s plan, to have battery swap stations, would allow faster “fill-ups” but would inevitably be more expensive. Depending again on the battery configuration a swap could take longer than five to ten minutes, and would almost certainly not be “self-service.” Waiting a half an hour or more for new batteries, even at a predicted savings of 2/3 the price of gasoline, is a significant disincentive. Controlling battery quality and age would seem to be a problem as well.

On the other hand, with such a chain of stations in place, when the necessary improvements in battery technology finally arrive there will be a way to distribute them.

New Electrical Distribution Chain

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