SAN FRANCISCO — The State of Hawaii and the Hawaiian Electric Company on Tuesday endorsed an effort to build an alternative transportation system based on electric vehicles with swappable batteries and an “intelligent” battery recharging network.
The plan, the brainchild of the former Silicon Valley software executive Shai Agassi, is an effort to overcome the major hurdles to electric cars — slow battery recharging and limited availability.
By using existing electric car technologies, coupled with an Internet-connected web of tens of thousands of recharging stations, he thinks his company, Better Place L.L.C. of Palo Alto, Calif., will make all-electric vehicles feasible.
Mr. Agassi has succeeded in assembling a growing consortium of national governments, regional planning organizations and one major car company. Tuesday’s announcement follows earlier endorsements from Israel, Denmark, Australia, Renault-Nissan and a coalition of Northern California localities supporting the idea leading to the deployment of an electric vehicle with a range of greater than 100 miles, beginning at the end of 2010 in Israel. The company plans test deployments of vehicles in 2009 and broad commercial sales in 2012.
The New York Times glosses over the relationship with Better Place L.L.C. and its Renault-Nissan, but it looks like the Renault-Nissan partnership will be the provider for Hawaii as it will be for the Oregon and California projects.
I wonder how this will sit with UAW workers that our new president’s home state, Oregon with its new Democratic senator, and Nancy Pelosi’s congressional district are adopting a plan that cuts the Big Three and their union workers out completely?