Shai Agassi was SAP’s CEO in waiting – that was back in 2005/6. He expected to take on the role in 2007….except he was told to wait, as SAP had extended Henning Kaggermann’s stay. Shai decided that wasn’t for him and departed from SAP. That left the way open for, soon to be full CEO, Leo Apotheker.
Today he is single handedly taking on the world with his plans to get full scale adoption of rechargeable electric cars. His Palo Alto based company Better Place is positioned to be one of the big players in what Barack Obama is already promising to be the creation of tens of thousands of green jobs. Locally around the Bay area, but also in Israel, Denmark, Australia, Canada and Hawaii, Agassi has got the ears of governments, utlility companies and also the fourth biggest car maker in the world Renault Nissan. Agassi is a leader and people are following him, particularly from SAP. In Japan a new subsidiary Better Place Japan will be led by Kiyotaka Fujii, the former president and CEO of retailer Louis Vuitton’s Japanese subsidiary and SAP Japan. Based in Tokyo, Fujii also will lead the company’s efforts in the Asia Pacific region. (Agassi is working with Fuji Heavy Industries the parent company of Subaru, another car manufacturer).
His model is unique, where the charging stations and car batteries are owned by Better Place. The pilot goes live this year in Israel. The concept is not only can you recharge, but you can exchange depleted batteries for fully charged ones overcoming some of the range issues.
You have to admire this man – when he believes in something he makes it happen, and removing the direct link between transportation and oil is something worth believing in. What is such a shame is that he’s had to do it at all. The existing global companies involved in car production and oil production had the cash and capability to be driving this – but largely haven’t.
This is a man to watch, still only 40, but already an influencer on a grand scale with an intellect to match. Let’s support Shai Agassi in his endeavours, after all, future generations absolutely need what he is doing!
Locally to me, a small company Amberjac Projects has adapted the Toyota Prius to be able to be recharged via a standard household socket, extending the range and use of the electric system. It now has 9 vehicles in use as concept vehicles.