[TED] Shai Agassi: A bold plan for mass adoption of electric cars

Better Place Unveils an Electric Car Battery Swap Station

Better Place unveiled its battery swap system today and said the $500,000 gadget can replace a dead battery and get you back on the road in less time than it takes to fill your gas tank.

The prototype revealed in Japan is the first of what the Silicon Valley startup promises will be countless automated battery exchange stations that will one day dot our cities. The technology will make it possible to travel long distances in an EV without the hassle of stopping to recharge your battery, company founder and CEO Shai Agassi said.

“Today marks a major milestone for the automotive industry as well as Better Place,” Agassi said during the demonstration in Yokohama, which was shown live via webcast. “For nearly a century, the automotive industry has been inextricably tied to oil. Today we are demonstrating a new path forward.”

The demonstration came six months after Better Place opened 17 EV charging stations in Tel Aviv, the first step in its plan to have 150,000 places to plug in throughout Israel by 2011. The company, which is working with Renault on an EV, also plans to have 100 battery swap stations in Israel by then. It’s a model the startup hopes to replicate in Denmark, Australia, California, Hawaii and other locations where it has forged alliances with governments and utilities to hasten the adoption of cars with cords.

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