A year after the liquidation of his Better Place electric car venture, entrepreneur Shai Agassi is planning a comeback with a new venture in the environmentally friendly energy field: Newrgy. The size of the Agassi's new company's financing round and who will provide the initial financing are not yet known.
Agassi first appeared under the title of Newrgy founder and CEO at a conference on alternative solutions for municipal transportation organized by the Frost and Sullivan consultant firm in London at the end of June. The conference, one of the most prestigious in the auto sector, drew executives from Mercedes Benz, BMW, Ford, and others, as well as participants from the electric auto and charging industry.
Former Better Place executives believe that Agassi's new company is likely to focus on electric public transportation, especially mass transit, a field in which government and municipal financing is important. The company is likely to combine several technologies and principles for regulation of battery charging developed by Better Place, but will probably not market to private consumers initially; it will aim its efforts at government and municipal customers, such as the Greater London Authority. When Better Place was active, the company ran several pilot mass transit programs for electrical taxicabs with replaceable batteries in Tokyo and Amsterdam. These were considered successful at the time, and attracted great interest among municipalities and governments.
The Greater London Authority is today considered a global leader in the development of electricity-based public transportation, especially taxis. In 2009, the Mayor of London gave a target of 100,000 electrical vehicles in London, and declared his intention of deploying 25,000 charging stations in the city. There are currently only 3,000 electrical vehicles and 1,400 charging stations in the city. The Authority is now planning to grant incentives to entrepreneurs developing electrical public transport, and the first taxicab company based exclusively on Nisan Motors' electrical Leaf vehicle recently began operating there. An advanced prototype of an electrical London taxi developed by a Turkish company was also unveiled at the conference attended by Agassi. Better Place submitted a request for liquidation in May 2013.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on July 6, 2014
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