Posts Tagged ‘better place’

Taking charge in a new electric world

July 4, 2010

As I said last week, a big strategic challenge for any business is recognising shifts in the external environment which may represent threats or opportunities to existing sources of income.

One clearly declining ‘product’ in the face of technological change (i.e. the rise of mobile phones) has been the public phonebox.

It’s very cool to see a telecoms company thiking laterally about this costly legacy infrastructure. Telekom Austria has started converting some of their phoneboxes into recharge stations for electric vehicles.

How clever to tap into a hot trend early. Phoneboxes are likely to be in high-traffic areas, are hard for NIMBY residents to object to (given they boxes are already in situ), and may well have some of the power infrastructure (they are lit at least).

While I have little-to-no faith in Aussie equivalent Telstra being so proactive, this does strike me as an example Better Place should be looking at.

What other public infrastructure could be adapted to better/greener use?

h/t: Springwise

Agassi talks up a Better Place

May 7, 2009

You may remember my earlier posts on the Better Place electric car scheme (1, 2, & 3). Well, now that WordPress allow us bloggers to insert videos from TED easily, I thought I’d share an 18 min vid presentation from Better Place founder Shai Agassi:

He does a great job of outlining the economics of his model, and addresses some of the typical objections to this idea. He continues to highlight the linkages needed (between his firm, auto manufacturers, techologists, governments etc.). Let’s hope (for his sake, and perhaps ours) these cooperative endeavours continue.

And he mentions Australia…

A political connection makes for a Better Place

January 21, 2009

Interesting to see that one of this Blog’s earlier discussion points – the Better Place electric car consortium – is back in the local news. 

It turns out former state parlimentarian and ministerial possibility Evan Thornley will be heading up their Australian operations. Of course, this is raising some understandable concerns about conflicts of interest (see this Crikey discussion).

It does make sense that the consortium would go for a post-industrial entrepreneur (Thornley was one of the few Aussie dot-commers to walk away with serious cash from the bubble – he was a founder of Looksmart) and one with political connections.  The Better Place business model is heavily reliant on such infrastructure and personal networks if it is to work.

It remains to be seen whether this furore over conflict of interest might significantly undermine Thornley’s social capital.

Friedman and I get Wired – an electric combination

December 11, 2008

New York Times op-ed dynamo and Flat World zealot Thomas Friedman has joined me on the Better Place electric car bandwagon – see his discussion of the consortium’s expansion (and my post on them earlier this week).

I also found a lengthy Wired magazine profile of the man behind the scheme. It certainly sounds audacious yet practical. The article provides a lengthy explanation of the components of the puzzle (click on the figure above for an explanation). There’s a video explanation of the Israel rollout below.

The challenge for firms is to find where they can best contribute to or benefit from such a different set of infrastructure and behaviours. What possible complementary products can you foresee?

Network externalities & electric cars

December 8, 2008

Further to my post of last week about US electric companies potentially boosting the sales of electric cars through bulk orders, the state of Hawaii’s has endorsed a proposal to develop the network of recharging stations necessary for large-scale adoption of the technology.

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Hawaii joins a list of countries and locations reportedly jumping on board, including Israel, Denmark, San Francisco, Renault-Nissan, and Australia (through yet another Macquaire consortium).

The driver of all this is Shai Agassi and his Better Place startup. The firm clearly has a very strong grasp on the need to build partnerships when dealing with products so reliant on network externalities. Put simply, unless consumers can be convinced that shifting to electric vehicles is not a hastle, then most won’t bother. Likewise, until they can be sure there will be enough consumers, most providers of the necessary infrastructure, like “filling stations”, won’t bother either. Better Place is trying to break this impasse. Now let’s just hope they are backing the right technology, and also, are not just building monopoly via technology lock-in.