Ex-SAP exec Agassi gets into electric cars

The venture is backed by a large Israeli holding company that has pledged $100 million.

A new day, a new electric car company.

Shai Agassi, who left software giant SAP earlier this year, is raising funds to start an electric car company, according to Reuters. The Israel Corp, a large holding company, has pledged to invest $100 million in the venture. That will give it one-third of the company, according to Reuters.

The idea is to make Israel more independent from oil imports. Although it's right next to some of the world's largest oil deposits, Israel actually has little oil and natural gas of its own. One of the few large oil deposits, found off shore, is actually in the zone of the Palestinians. Partly as a result, the company has been one of the centers for developing alternative energy technologies such as solar thermal electricity. (There's also a company that's trying to turn human sewage into petroleum.)

Few details have emerged on how much the car will cost or when it will come out.

Several companies--Tesla Motors, Zap, Phoenix Motorcars, Think! Nordic, Miles Automotive, Reva--are giving the electric car concept a shot. Reva has already released a car in India, and Zap and Miles have released low-speed vehicles (that don't exceed 35 miles an hour). Full-fledged, freeway-legal electric cars, however, won't hit until this year or next year.

Although there is strong consumer interest, these companies will likely be challenged with increasing the range on their cars and lowering the price. Building a car company isn't cheap either. Think! and Tesla have raised tens of millions in venture funds.

 

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