Looking over at the new September 2008 cover of Wired Magazine, I spied a familiar face – Shai Agassi, the electric car evangelist who has spoken at the Presidents Conference, ROI120, innumerable college campuses, and pretty much any gathering that would have him. His topic? Ending the world’s dependence on oil by replacing internal combustion engine cars with electric powered vehicles. I’ve seen him speak a few times and he has the presence and aura of an evangelist. He is bright, articulate and successful with a proven track record in business – he sold one of his tech companies for $400 million. Everywhere he speaks, people walk away in awe of the audacity and feasibility of his vision. In a nutshell, his plan is to use the cell phone business model where the car is the phone and the electricity is the talk time. Cars will be recharged using recharging stations which can replenish batteries or even replace batteries with new freshly charged ones. He has already raised $200 million and is set to roll out beta programs in Israel and in Denmark shortly.

He has impressed the heck out of some pretty heavy players and he meets regularly with high level politicians and captains of Industry. At the Presidents Conference, ordinarily cynical Israelis sat in awe as Agassi explained his plan. Now, he’s on the cover of Wired.

Of course Agassi’s plan isn’t perfect. While electricity will reduce Carbon emissions generated by cars by 20%, those Carbon emissions will be concentrated in poorer neighborhoods where coal fired plants that still generate most of the world’s electricity, will in all likelihood be located. Electric cars will require a massive investment in recharging stations – this can work in relatively small places like Denmark and Israel, but makes the plan impractical in large countries with relatively low population densities like the US (except for maybe Hawaii) where drivers cover large distances, even during daily commutes.

Agassi has answers for all the naysayers and while I am not sure I am completely convinced, man, the dude puts on a great show! So… go ahead and pick up the latest copy of Wired at your newsstand or read the article online. I know y’all are Jews and we don’t usually discuss tech matters, but I’d love to have an informed discussion on the feasibility of Agassi’s plan. I know I want it to work – I dream of a day where we are not reliant on oil and fossil fuels, but I am afraid that this fervent desire and all its geopolitical implications may color my ability to objectively assess Agassi’s project.

Also I pretty much know shit about cars, engineering, battery technology, high finance, business and anything else related to this story. Thanks to Muffti for his modeling assistance in the pic above.

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About the author


Founder and Publisher of Jewlicious, David Abitbol lives in Jerusalem with his wife, newborn daughter and toddler son. Blogging as "ck" he's been blocked on twitter by the right and the left, so he's doing something right.


  • According to the current theory of man-made global warming it doesn’t matter at all if carbon dioxide is emitted in poor neighbourhoods, as long as the neighbourhood is on the same planet.

    Reducing dependence on crude oil for individual transportation might still be a pretty good idea if someone would finally come up with an affordable car that uses other sources of energy. The current models from Renault-Nissan cost far too much today. There are talks that Renault might invest in a facility in the Galil but I don’t see how this might help.

    Let’s hope that India, which is also experimenting with electric means of individual means of transportation comes up with a cheap product ready for mass-production. Yalla, Chashmal-Rikshas

  • What a cute widdle pink doggie, Muffti! Where did you get him?

  • Love the eyes muffti. If this philosophy thing fails, you’ve got something to fall back on. Finally. The search is over.

    P.S. We can tell you’re totally not reading anything. The perfect eye model stare.

  • Israel, and any other small country, for that matter — does not need more cars. Agassi’s plan is to make cars more affordable and prolific, and well, less polluting than traditional cars.

    We do not need a new electric car which requires special battery charging stations. We need one which can operate on clean and renewable fuel, that you can plug in at home, or at work. I think world powers that are awed by Agassi’s plan, need to put more emphasis on creating renewable energies… otherwise, we are putting the cart before the horse.

    – Karin

  • Karin, electricity can be produced by renewable sources wind and solar, all of which can be attached to Al Gore’s proposed “superhighway grid” in the states.

  • I fully agree with Agassi because I had the same idea years ago before there was an Agassi. The benefits of the electric car are staggering. Most are obvious, but the fact that it is readily available compared to any other approach will make it mandatory. The major danger is that it may be blocked by a stubborn corporate world unwilling to see so great a change in the field of transportation. However, there is no time to waste. The first major downturn in oil availability is less than a dozen years away. What most people fail to realize is that oil is produced by 25 different countries at different rates from reserves of widely varying amounts. Half of our global production comes from the twelve members of OPEC, the other half from thirteen countries that have about one third as much oil as OPEC. Who do you think will run out of oil first? Of the thirteen, it should be added, only five actually produce oil for export. It will be OPEC’s world and we have to be ready for that. If there is actually a better way, do it! Don’t just make cute remarks about systems that are offered to solve the problem.