The pitch for 'Project Better Place'
At the AlwaysOn Summit at Stanford University, Bill Green of Vantage Point Venture Partners discusses the theory behind "Project Better Place" and explains why the country of Israel is a smart test bed for the transportation infrastructure that supports electric vehicles.
>> The theory of Project Better Place is the same as today, when you buy a cell phone, you no longer ask the question, and some of you are old enough to remember, I am, when you bought a cell phone you got a little map, and it showed you where the phone would work, and it wasn't a lot of places. But you carried that map around, because you wanted to make sure it would work. So today, if you buy a Tesla, or a Volt, the question on the table in the United States is well where do you charge that, exactly. Maybe it matters, maybe it doesn't. But when you have a cell phone and you get off the plane anywhere in the world pretty much, you flip on the phone, and it works. And you may see the operating system come up and where it is and who's going to charge you when you get your bill, but you don't wonder about whether the phone will work, broadly speaking. So Project Better Place is founded on the premise that to make electric transport ubiquitous, we have to have the same confidence. We have to know that if we own an electric car, where we drive it, we're going to get charged. So Project Better Place is the Vota car if you will, the operating system of electric car infrastructure. The reason it's a big investment is it's sort of a big bang question. You can't just do a neighborhood, because cars move around, right? So it's a country by country strategy. The first country chosen was Israel, because that's a beta country if you will. Because if your car is driven for more than oh sixty miles in any single direction in Israel, it's been stolen.
Laughter So it's a really good way for a company doing something very ambitious to launch. But we were clear from the outset, some of you may know Shai Gossey assumed spelling, the founder of Project Better Place, that this is not an Israel project, but it's a great place to start. There are now over a dozen countries, the latest being the United Kingdom. The prime minister gave a speech day before yesterday saying we're going to launch Project Better Place, we're going to build these cars in the UK, it's going to be ubiquitous, and it's going to be here. Denmark has already signed up, so the project is proliferating. The other thing that I'll say, and you guys may have more questions, it's a really interesting concept, if you want, we'll take them. But this is almost like changing the conversation from what comes first, the car or the infrastructure. One of the things that I was privy to, that was quite interesting is the economics, running electric car fleets were so good that when the deal was being formulated in Israel, one of the investors was a big Israeli bank. And in the middle of the meeting, the chairman CEO of the bank called in head of leasing, and said I want you to hear this, because if this works, your business is no more. No one will lease anything but an electric car, because this system makes it such that the economics of leasing any other kind of car no longer makes sense. So again, we believe clean tech. You work at scale, vastest intermediation, larger risks, larger rewards in many of these deals. And this deal is the epitome of what we think needs to be done when we think about addressing these problems, because this is not a trivial set of problems, and the opportunities are very large.
>> So can I ask just on that, I mean unlike cell phones where you know, you can't use one charger for every phone -
>> And it's kind of infuriating. So is what you're saying the same charging stations place would work ubiquitously among you know, any kind of.
>> Manufactured dealer?
>> Right, it's a good question. The easy answer is yes, there are standards being created today in fact, for all electric cars, so that you've got a certain kind of plug, and you can plug in the car and you can charge it. Now that's still sort of VHS Betamax to a certain extent.
>> But will be sorted out in the United States and elsewhere. I think the issue that Project Better Place has done a good job addressing is they're partnered with Reneau assumed spelling to build the cars, and Reneau is building cars whose batteries are swappable. When you buy the car, you don't buy the battery. The battery remains the property of Project Better Place. So you can either charge that battery, or you can have that battery swapped. It's something that resembles a car wash, you drive through, the battery's removed robotically, a new battery is put in, you drive off. Because the big hindrance in many people's minds around all EV's is what happens to that battery. The way this company has gotten around it is to say the battery is no longer a question, the battery is mine, you pay me for e-gas, you move your vehicle, and that's how it works.
==== Transcribed by Automatic Sync Technologies ====