New Company Receives $200 M to Make Electric Vehicles a Reality

It’s being backed by some of the world’s largest investment organizations, and newly formed “Project Better Place” is going to need that capital and influence as it embarks on its quest to bring electric vehicle adoption to the mainstream marketplace.

The new company recently announced plans to deploy regional and global infrastructure to support electric vehicles on a country-by-country basis by establishing a grid of electric charging spots at current parking locations—as well as battery exchange stations through software systems integration. The goal is to provide consumers with the energy to keep their cars charged and driving without the need to wait for electricity at any point.

The model for the new business is similar to that used by mobile phone operators. In the same way that wireless operators deploy a network of cell towers to provide an area of mobile phone coverage.

“We have crossed a historic threshold where electricity and batteries provide a cheaper alternative for consumers. Existing technology, coupled with the right business model and a scaleable infrastructure can provide an immediate solution and significantly decrease carbon emissions,” said Shai Agassi, a former SAP executive who will as CEO of the new entity.

The company has entered into a term sheet for its first round of funding in the amount of $200 million with investments from Israel Corp., Morgan Stanley, VantagePoint Venture Partners, and a group of individual private investors.

Phase one of Project Better Place starts with establishing a repeatable framework, implementing electric recharge grids through local operating companies in multiple countries. The company is currently in discussions with various governments to establish pilot sites, with plans to begin rollout of the new infrastructure in early 2008.

Project Better Place will deploy and test this framework over the next 24 months in a variety of launch markets, after which it plans to deploy hundreds of thousands of vehicles annually, across multiple markets. The company anticipates achieving tipping-point saturation in early markets within 10 years of rollout.

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