Israel Says Shalom to Electric Cars


When you are a tiny country with almost no oil, located in a volatile region, and your gasoline consistently sells for over $6 a gallon, electric cars are an especially attractive option. We recently told you about Shai Agassi, an American-Israeli entrepreneur, and his plans to make electric cars sell like cell phones. Under the innovative model, "purchasers get subsidized hardware — the car — and pay a monthly fee for expected mileage, like minutes on a cellphone plan, eliminating concerns about the fluctuating price of gasoline." When we first covered the story last November, "the Israeli government [had] recently given a vote of confidence in support" of the idea. Now, the NY Times is reporting that today "the Israeli government will announce its support for a broad effort to promote the use of electric cars, embracing a joint venture between an American-Israeli entrepreneur and Renault and its partner, Nissan Motor Company."

Any concern that this project will go the way of the EV1 should be allayed by the fact that Project Better Place, Mr. Agassi's company, "has put up $100 million for the project."Project Better Place will also be providing lithium-ion batteries, which have a range of 124 miles, as well as "the infrastructure necessary to keep the cars going — whether parking meter-like plugs on city streets or service stations along highways, where, in a structure like a car wash, exhausted batteries will be removed and fresh ones inserted." The cars themselves will be made by Renault and Nissan. At the same time, Israel will provide substantial tax breaks for the cars and keep them in place until at least 2015. The aim is to "make the cars cheaper to consumers than gasoline-engine cars."

Of course, the electricity needed to charge the cars will have to come from somewhere, which is why Israeli President Shimon Peres "supports a larger investment in solar power, saying that 'the Saudis don't control the sun.'" Many believe that Israel is a perfect country for testing electric cars, due to the short distances between major cities, its entrepreneurial prowess, and its unique geopolitical needs.

Mr. Agassi is predicting that, by the end of 2010, 100,000 electric cars will be on Israeli roads. Whether or not his prediction is overly (or wildly) optimistic remains to be seen, but the timing coincides with the expected release of several exciting vehicles in the U.S., including the Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid, and the Chevy Volt. All this is making it clear that plug-in hybrids and pure electric vehicles are going to become increasingly common in the coming years.

Via: ::NY Times

See Also: ::2010: The Year We Make Electric Contact, ::Israel Invests in Mass Transit, ::Shimon and DiCaprio Swap Green Plans in Israel, ::Electric Car Plants in Israel?, ::Green Basics: Electric Vehicles and Cars, ::Converting Your Car To An Electric Vehicle, ::An Electric Deal For Canada and Israel, ::In Israel, A Little Oil Goes a Long Way, and ::Toyota Unveils Plug-in Prius