David Pogue interviewed electric car entrepreneur Shai Agassi about his plans to create electric cars with removal batteries so that drivers can simply drive up to filling stations and get their old battery swapped for a new one in less time than it takes to fill a regular car's tank with gas.
DP: So what will you guys make? What will you do?
SA: We sell miles, the way that AT&T sells you minutes. They buy bandwidth and they translate into minutes. We buy batteries and clean electrons–we only buy electrons that come from renewable sources–and we translate that into miles.
DP: What are we talking about here? What’s the infrastructure you’re building?
SA: We have two pieces of infrastructure. 1) Charge spots. And they will be everywhere, like parking meters, only instead of taking money from you when you park, they give you electrons. And they will be at home, they’ll be at work, they’ll be at downtown and retail centers. As if you have a magic contract with Chevron or Exxon that every time you stop your car and go away, they fill it up.
Now, that gives us the ability to drive most of our drives, sort of a 100-mile radius. And that’s most of the drives we do. But we also take care of the exceptional drive. You want to go from Boston to New York. And so on the way, we have what we call switch stations: lanes inside gas stations. You go into the switch station, your depleted battery comes out, a full battery comes in, and you keep driving. It takes you about two, three minutes–less than filling with gasoline–and you can keep on going.