Skip to Content

Killing the Gas Guzzlers in Australia

The startup Better Place plans to build an electric-car network down under.
October 24, 2008

Better Place (formerly Project Better Place), a company that plans to develop electric-car infrastructures for Israel and Denmark, has now announced plans to do the same in a much bigger country: Australia. The plan is to eventually make it unnecessary for Australia to import any oil.

If it succeeds there, the company’s model could work in parts of the United States, too, such as the West Coast or the cities from Boston to Washington on the East Coast.

Better Place has proposed ways to overcome the limitations of today’s technology for electric vehicles–namely, the cost and recharge times of batteries. To keep down initial costs for customers, the company plans to sell cars in much the way that mobile-phone companies sell phones: with a subsidized low cost and a monthly plan. For the cars, the plan will pay for miles of driving, not minutes of talk time. The company also plans to install networks of charging stations, so that drivers can keep their cars topped off during the day, and battery swap stations along highways, where drivers can exchange a depleted battery for a charged one on long trips.

The plan seemed to make sense for Israel and Denmark, relatively small countries where such networks could be easily installed and where government policies heavily favor electric cars. But Better Place’s CEO, Shai Agassi, has said that it could work in the United States as well. (See this video.) Rather than connect the whole country, however, the plan would be to connect certain urban centers, such as those from Boston to Washington, DC, or from Los Angeles to Seattle. Government policies would still be needed to make the plan economical.

In the announcement of the Australia deal, Agassi emphasized that if the system can work in Australia, which has more car ownership per capita than the United States, it could work in the United States.

Not everyone is so optimistic.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

A Roomba recorded a woman on the toilet. How did screenshots end up on Facebook?

Robot vacuum companies say your images are safe, but a sprawling global supply chain for data from our devices creates risk.

A startup says it’s begun releasing particles into the atmosphere, in an effort to tweak the climate

Make Sunsets is already attempting to earn revenue for geoengineering, a move likely to provoke widespread criticism.

10 Breakthrough Technologies 2023

Every year, we pick the 10 technologies that matter the most right now. We look for advances that will have a big impact on our lives and break down why they matter.

These exclusive satellite images show that Saudi Arabia’s sci-fi megacity is well underway

Weirdly, any recent work on The Line doesn’t show up on Google Maps. But we got the images anyway.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.