While we just spoke to Shai Agassi inside the beltway, the Project Better Place founder and CEO was back on Capitol Hill yesterday to testify before the House Select Committee on Energy Independence & Global Warming. The hearing’s topic was “$4 Gasoline and Fuel Economy: Auto Industry at a Crossroads” and Agassi explained to the committee of representatives that “the electrification of the automobile is inevitable.”
At first Agassi raised some Congressional eyebrows when he explained he wanted to offer electric cars for free. But by the end Chairman Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) concluded by saying “I couldn’t agree with you more.”
Agassi said that for a “mere” $100 billion, or the equivalent of two months of U.S. oil imports, we could build the necessary infrastructure to support an electrified fleet — $80 billion of which would stimulate domestic jobs. Agassi implored:
Cut away the red tape, put in the incentives to actually accelerate this plan, and probably call Detroit again…. We owe a debt to Detroit. In 1942 the President called them up and said “Please stop making cars and start making tanks.” Maybe it’s time the president called Detroit again and said “Stop making tanks. Please make the right cars.”
Agassi was flanked by Project Better Place Partners, Dominique Thormann, Senior VP of Nissan North America, and Torben Holm of Denmark’s DONG Energy. Both echoed Agassi’s assurances that the means and will to electrify a nation’s auto fleet exist today.
The inclusion of Agassi and his business partners at the hearing shows that some members of congress are seriously considering going electric in a big way. Agassi has already won over the politicians of two other nations and he’s been spending an awful lot of time on the Hill as gas prices continue to soar. Perhaps D.C. is slowly warming to the idea that a plug could be the solution to our oil woes.