After a test trial on about 250 cars Israel’s Better Place electric car company has opened its doors to the general public this week. Apart from announcing new pay-as-you-charge deals, instead of the off-putting flat rate, the company offers a new twist on the limited mobility of EVs: battery switch stations located throughout the country for people who need a quick charge. Normally it can take hours for an electric battery to recharge, thus limiting the range and driving distance of cars.
With Israel being a small country –- about the size of New Jersey –– the new EV idea in planning for the past 5 years, could either be a boon or a flop. Those who buy into it will be buying electricity from the grid, instead of foreign bought oil, reducing emissions in the cities, and Israel’s reliance on imported oil. While Israel’s grid isn’t expected to be stable this summer since natural gas deals have been sabotaged by Egyptians, Israeli officials announced today that the brownouts predicted will be avoided this summer.
Meanwhile Israel is sitting on a natural gas goldmine, off the country’s coast, gas which it is exploring with a private businessman Yitzhak Tschuva and the US company Noble Energy. Once the Israeli gas goes online, the country should be energy independent for at least the next 20 years.
According to Globes, Better Place and the the Australia carmaker GM Holden will provide battery recharging services and equipment for the Volt electric car: “Holden announced that Better Place will develop membership packages for Volt customers, including the installation of a ‘Charge Spot’ unit at home or work, and zero emissions charging provided through the purchase of renewable energy or 100% government certified renewable energy certificates.”
It will be interesting to see how the tech rolls out in Israel. To date ten battery switch stations are working from the Israeli cities of Kiryat Gat to Elyakim. By September there will be 38, making it possible to drive the length of the country with a guaranteed charge.
It always takes a little thinking differently to make a paradigm shift. We hope this one works since car emissions are taking too much of a toll on public health, as well as the health of the planet.