Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Better Place is Lost in Space Dumb gets Dumber

UPDATE October 6 .  I just added this link that points out more of who is involved in this gangrene saga


Today (0ctober 2 2012) it was announced that Shai Agassi was fired as the CEO of Project Better Place after approximately half a billion dollars of losses in the hair brain scheme be an "operational" company that provides swapped out batteries to electric vehicle owners.


The blog below was posted in December 2010 the day after Shai Agassi appeared on Charlie Rose to hype his approach to bring electric cars to the world.  Here is a link to the Charlie Rose video of the interview.


 If you have 30 minutes to waste you can watch the interview.  In summary Shai tells Charlie the following:

Shimon Peres the President of Israel challenged him to give up on being the CEO of SAP to start Better Palce

He stated that every 2 years the cost to performance ratio of lithium ion batteries would halve

He stated that by 2020 China will build 40 million electric vehicles a year

He stated that Better Place needed to market a larger car than the Nissan Leaf and hence they chose the Renault.

Here is my blog from 20 months ago that was titled Dumb Gets Dumber

If one set of lithium ion batteries for a plug in vehicle is not a dumb enough idea some guys have come up with the brainwave that multiple sets of lithium ion batteries should be used for a plug in vehicle. Why the need for multiple sets of batteries? So that one can pull up to a service station that has a robot that quickly extracts the on board battery pack and replaces it with a freshly charged pack. Forget that the first battery pack was unaffordable we can quickly change out that unaffordable pack for the next doubly unaffordable pack.

This is the brainchild of a guy named Shai (pronounced Shy) Agassi and his company called Project Better Place. Well my name for his company is “Lost in Space” and his first name should be “Not So Shy” for the almost billion dollars he has raised from idiots in the investment and government community. Last night Not So Shy was on Charlie Rose on Bloomberg touting his brilliant idea and how the great State of California will soon have 50 taxis that run between San Francisco and San Jose that will use his Lost In Space technology. Great a bankrupt state will have 50 taxis out of a fleet of 20 million private vehicles with multiple sets of batteries that no one can afford.

What really got the hair up on my back was when Not So Shy told Charlie Rose that he just met with the Brazilian Foreign Minister and suggested that Brazil use the ethanol the country produces to generate electricity and not use it for a liquid fuel for vehicles. Here is the link to that Charlie Rose interview http://www.charlierose.com/view/interview/11323 Not So Shy certainly has thermodynamic chutzpah.

I have opined that ethanol as a transportation fuel is dumb, but at least Brazil produces its ethanol from cane sugar and actually has an economic model for ethanol fuel production. Shai here is a lesson from Thermodynamics 101 and Economics 101. Electric power in Brazil is valued at retail at about 8 US cents per KWh. Ethanol is valued at retail at $2.90 per gallon. There are approximately 22 KWh of energy in a gallon of ethanol, therefore as a liquid fuel ethanol’s value is 13 US cents per KWh. OK boy genius Mr. Not So Shy why would a firm take something that sells for 13 cents then lose half the energy generating power while spending tons of capital and then only get half of 8 cents or 4 cents for your product. This is the same economics as your dumb idea to have multiple unaffordable batteries for a car.

Not So Shy does not really care about economics he cares about the environment of our planet and increasing carbon dioxide. Yes his mission is to save the world. His investors and partners include: A123 batteries, HSBC Bank, Lazard, Morgan Stanley, Renault, and Vantage Point Venture Partners. The only guy missing for the take off of Lost in Space is old Bernie who burned on the launch pad. I plead to my readers not to believe this junk science that is made of the same cloth as Bloom Energy.

It is kind of sad that a guy as smart as Charlie Rose could not ask Not So Shy to explain the second law of thermodynamics and how a second set of lithium ion batteries from A123 that cost $50,000 for the Renault ne marche pas Affluence ZE makes any sense to anyone other than Not So Shy who is the grand wizard behind the Lost in Space company.


  1. that, because the VCs are BLIND, never READ the related articles on the web and not even the EMAIL sent them, that would have helped them to SAVE very much money!

    in this July 23, 2007 article you can read the TRUE STORY of the replaceable-battery-cars venture ... www.gaetanomarano.it/articles/033cellphoneCAR.html

    and, in the same article, is explained also WHY, this $490M project, was already DOOMED from start, five years ago!

    read also my comment on Technology Review posted in 2007 ... www.technologyreview.com/news/408289/plug-in-hybrids-get-green-grades/#comments

    very sad to see that, while I can't find $1M to start a new.space company, this guy raised $490,000,000 to develop ... NOTHING!

  2. When I spoke with Shai long ago he claimed three things:
    1. The driving range of a Battery car is less than 100 miles.
    2. Battery don’t last – therefore you must replace them. The technical reason: batteries suffer from a phenomenon known as the "memory effect." If you charge the battery partially enough times, eventually the battery "forgets" that it can charge fully. As a result, he believes, Tesla batteries will not last…
    3. To charge a 100 Mile battery will last more than 12 hours…

    I dismissed all 3 points with the following:
    1. Today it might be 100 miles. In the very near future (of 5-7) years it will be 500 Miles…
    2. One can design a chip to control the battery. Maybe not in phones but definitely in cars…
    3. If you convert the charging to 220 (from 110) and load w/high ampere you can charge the battery very fast.
    He dismissed my answers….
    A few years passed.
    I just bought a Tesla last month.
    1. The driving range of the Tesla is 300Miles. The average person drives daily 36.9 Miles. I drive less than 40 miles a day. Do I need to change my battery? (http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_many_miles_does_the_average_person_drive_annually )

    The Tesla S that I bought allows you to charge 61 Miles per hour….

    2. If I drive 300 Miles and then I stop in a hotel (need to sleep) – I can charge the car in a few hours. Wake up in the morning and continue…. Tesla 2016 version will allow charging the car fully probably in less than an hour. So no need to change the battery…

    3. Tesla does have a chip to control the battery and they give you a 10 years warranty on the battery…

    Say no more….

  3. I like Gaetano Marano analysis. While he is the true inventor of the swapped battery idea - he also admits that there is no need for swapped batteries.

    Shai was never a visionary and anyone that truly knows him find him arrogant and short sighted.

    PS: Gaetano should be aware that life is not about an 'idea'... its about 'creating'. Next time, at least patent your idea....


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