DETROIT -- Shai Agassi has a grand vision. By 2012, he says, a new class of moderately priced electric vehicles could cruise on U.S. roads.
Agassi is founder and CEO of Better Place, a California startup whose plan to promote electric cars has won the backing of French automaker Renault SA and others.
In the Better Place model, automakers sell electric cars at relatively low prices because consumers don't buy the vehicles' lithium ion batteries. Instead, Better Place owns the batteries, which are swapped in and out of the cars as needed. Better Place sells consumers plans, similar to cell phone contracts to buy services, including access to power, by the mile.
"We buy electricity. Our job is selling miles," Agassi told Automotive News. "We're the new gas station network."