SAN FRANCISCO-- While most of this week's Web 2.0 Summit has centered on trying to find business models that work in today's slumping economy, two of the most exciting ventures are also the least affordable--at least for now.
Those two companies are Tesla Motors and Shai Agassi's Better Place. The two have completely different business models, but are joined by the idea that gasoline vehicles are something that will not last. Tesla, which is the creation of PayPal co-founder Elon Musk, is creating expensive sports cars that run off nothing more than electricity--and a large bank account to afford the six-figure cost of the vehicle. Meanwhile, Agassi's Better Place is aiming to change the paradigm in the automobile industry to the point where everything is electric; instead of filling up at gas stations, we'll simply be getting our batteries swapped out in less time than it would take to go through a car wash.
Both Musk and Agassi, who spoke at separate sessions Friday at the conference, face huge financial hurdles on the way to seeing their visions become as ubiquitous as the business models they're trying to replace. In Musk's case it's infrastructure as much as it is improving the actual technology.
Tesla's current model, which is a two-door roadster, costs consumers in excess of $100,000, and the company cannot produce them fast enough. The waiting list, which is currently at a little over 1,200 people, matches that of Tesla's current yearly production. "We're making 1,200 a year," said Musk, "and eventually 1,500 a year." … Read more