PARIS--There's a strange disconnect surrounding Better Place, the company best known for its plan to extend the range of electric vehicles by relying on speedy battery swaps.
Automotive executives are nearly unanimous in dismissing the idea. With the conspicuous exception of Nissan-Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn, rarely does an executive express interest.
Yet Better Place is getting increasingly credible support from governments, banks, and major corporations. So far this year, it has signed an extensive deal with General Electric and picked up $350 million in financing.
In an interview at the Paris auto show, Shai Agassi, the Palo Alto, Calif., company's founder and CEO, attributed his cool reception in automotive circles to "a lack of belief that something that big can happen in the industry."
Chinese automakers are more receptive than traditional industry powers, he added.
"Incumbents in an industry that is slow to change tend to believe that the speed of change will remain constant," Agassi said. … Read more