One of the major obstacles standing in the way of widespread adoption of electric vehicles is the limited range offered by current battery technology. Shai Agassi, CEO of Better Place, has an approach that may be gaining some traction. Better Place is promoting the concept of automated battery swapping where drivers will pull into a service station and exchange their depleted battery for a fully charged unit. The concept is similar to conventional refueling and reportedly takes less than one minute. However, the capital required to build this infrastructure will be massive and battery ranges must still improve in order to make the process viable for long road trips. Read this article for more details.
Warren Buffett met with students from Rice University’s graduate school of business yesterday. Each year, Mr. Buffett meets with several groups of business students and provides advice on business and investing topics. According to an article in the Houston Chronicle, Mr. Buffett made some comments regarding peak oil and the prospect for electric cars. Read this article for more information.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Better Place Inc. has demonstrated its battery exchange technology for the first time in Yokohama, Japan. The company has posted a video demonstration of the process in which a specially designed electric car has a depleted battery exchanged for a recharged battery in under a minute. This post includes two video interviews with Better Place founder Shai Agassi explaining the technology and vision for his company.
Despite gasoline prices that have fallen precipitously since the record high levels of mid 2008, it appears that interest in electric cars is still alive and well. In fact, efforts to come up with viable technologies could be accelerating. This goes far beyondGM’s initiative to develop the Chevrolet Volt in 2010. With all of the financial and political problems facing the domestic automakers in the United States, it is possible that less distracted and more agile competitors could bring a viable product to market in a more timely manner. This has major implications for the auto and energy industries.