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Shai Agassi's 2020 vision

Two years ago, Shai Agassi quit a top job at the software giant SAP to run with a green-tech vision: he sees the world kicking its dependence on oil with electric cars. Talking with guest host Jane Clayson on our show today, he named the year 2020 as the tipping point:

http://audio.wbur.org/storage/2009/04/onpoint_0424_agassi.mp3

I’ll make a bold prediction for you. 2020, more electric cars sold that year than gasoline cars. And by that point in time, people will question “Why didn’t we do this much earlier?” Not “how come this was done at such a fast pace.”

I’ll give you a metaphor that most of the listeners would actually relate to. About ten years ago is when first of us sent our first email. In that year, we probably sent hundreds of letters, and one email. And most of the listeners have sent, received hundreds of emails this morning, and probably won’t send a letter for the rest of the month.

Those transitions happen really, really fast. If you think of music industry, if you think of the cell-phone industry, all these industries shift when they become consumer electronics, in speeds that are unheard of. And when you look back at the transformation and say ”Wow, that was really, really fast,” and I think the same thing will happen with cars. 2020, more electric cars than gasoline cars sold in that year.

Agassi's company Better Place is taking off fast. They've raised hundreds of millions of dollars in venture capital, and he has governments in Israel, Denmark, Australia, Canada, Hawaii, and California lined up to go. Anyone want to take him up on that wager?

This program aired on April 24, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.

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