Shai Agassi, the initiator of the 'free electric cars' idea, declared today that Israel will have 100,000 of them by 2010. Ambitious? Agassi, who is founder of Project Better Place (links to TH post) presented his vision today at the annual Ministry of Finance budget department meeting, reports Globes. He warned that Israel can't wait seven years until the groundwork and technology is laid and criticized academia. "If we wait for an unknown science at some university, we might miss the date." Instead, Agassi is banking on social pressure inside Israel to push the technology forward. "Only in Israel do people say that it cannot be done," he said.
The Israeli population can be quite pessimistic, but we think if a buying an electric car equals zero tax (Israelis pay about 90% on the price of a car in taxes) it can be done. And any way, Agassi's plan is to pretty much hand out the cars for free, charging users fees per use, much like cell phone operators.
At the meet, Agassi also appealed to the Israeli soft-spot for high-tech and stroked the egos of those in attendance. The electric car would facilitate a jump in Israeli high-tech, he said. "We must create fourth-generation high-tech. We need to create a new foundation that will give us an advantage and that will last for 15 years. We cannot compete against India in size or demography," he concluded.
Last time we heard there were about 1,500 hybrid cars zooming around Israel, with one living in our neighborhood. We can't imagine where it plugs in from the street, but hopefully with Agassi's plan, adequate refilling stations will be part of the overall roll-out.
See also TreeHugger's guide on how to green your ride.