Electric Cars Are Coming – Are Israelis Ready For Them?

Better Place electric taxi debuts in Tokyo. Is Tel Aviv next? Maurice volunteers himself to be the company’s test driver.

Israel’s debut with total electric powered cars is coming, and Shai Agassi’s Better Place electric car company is going to bring this reality in Israel sooner than many people may be prepared for, including having enough electricity mega watts  to run them.

The technology being developed by Better Place is becoming so well known that international news media networks such as CNN , where Shai Agassi and his company were shown May 12 on a special program talking about his company’s technology.

Shai Agassi talks about his concepts

But despite all of this hoopla, which has including ordinary people like me taking test drives in converted Renault Fluence cars at the Better Place Electric Car Education Center in Tel Aviv; and with agreements already reached between Better Place and the Dor Alon Energy Company to have Better Place battery exchange stations located at selected gas stations, is Israel really ready for the electric car age?

It’s not just the issue of having enough electricity available to power them, even though additional power stations are now in the works – including a number of solar powered ones in the country’s Negev desert regions.

There are also issues involving infrastructure; especially in areas outside the major metropolitan areas of  Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa.

Any chance of recharging electric cars here?

And finally, are Israel’s 2 plus million driving population really ready, mind set wise, to make the switch to going “total electric” when driving to and from work and other destinations?

CNN also featured Better Place last Friday when both the company and Mr. Agassi were aired on an environmental news show on TV.

Besides noting the agreement that his company now has with the European car giant Renault –Nissan company, Agassi mentioned possible partnerships with automakers in China, including a company, Chery Automobile Company Ltd.

This possibility would not only result in the manufacture of less expensive electric powered cars, but could help solve the increasing pollution problems that major Chinese cities now have from large numbers of  gasoline powered cars on the road. It could also alleviate stress on the electric grid there, as Green Prophet’s Jack pointed out this week.

The first stage of Better Place cars going “online” in Israel will involve selective numbers of fleet vehicles by both companies and municipalities that will use these cars in their lease fleets.

The cars will later be available to the general public by the end of 2011. One of the company’s major challenges involves creating a better battery than the present lithium ion one that is very expensive and will be “leased” to car owners.

The company is involved in developing a “smart battery” that can create its own electricity and even “feed” excess power back into the national electric grid it peak demand times. Perhaps the biggest challenge facing the success of these cars will be finding environmentally friendly solutions in the source of most electric power in Israel, which is presently from coal and oil fired powered plants.

Honda and I are still waiting to move up

better place honda sticker

As for myself, I have a Better Place Sticker in place on my aging Honda; and hope for the ability to one day move up to driving “total electric,” smart batteries and all.

In fact, I’m ready to be a “test driver” to promote the product.

Shai, are you listening?

::Better Place

Read more on Better Place electric cars and technology:

A New Chery on Top For Better Place Electric Cars?

Maurice Test Drives the Better Place Electric Car

Better Place Launches Electric Taxis in Tokyo!

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2 thoughts on “Electric Cars Are Coming – Are Israelis Ready For Them?”

  1. Mike Druttman says:

    Sorry, Maurice, but Shai and his Better Place minions are NOT listening to you. If you write to them, they won’t answer. I tried, and I got silence in reply.

    People with ageing cars are the ideal target to be ‘test drivers’ for this new technology, develop some promotional headwind and get an EV at preferential rates. I also suggested this to Better Place over 6 months ago.

    However Better Place know all the answers and don’t need anybody’s help, least of all yours and mine. I wish them well, but I reckon that they are going to have a very disappointing market entry in 2011. The car can only do 140 kms on a battery charge (without the air-conditioner working – which reduces the range by 20 kms). So a 60 km round trip is your limit, boyos. Far better a Toyota Prius, where you will never get stuck with a dead car and no recharging station within reach.

    1. Mike,

      I’ve written to Better Place and I’ve always gotten a response from Mike Granoff, in investor relations. They are probably super-overwhelmed with queries. Best to contact an info center near you. There is one in Israel and I heard there is one in Canada as well. As for the technology, I am not sold that it will have lasting value in the marketplace. Look at the promising cell phone startup Modu. A great idea. But the timing was too late in my opinion. The iPhone rolled in, and I bet it’s over for Modu, even though they are trying to list on the Israel stock exchange: http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/business/modu-looking-to-list-in-tel-aviv-1.321356. Changeable jackets for your cell phone? That’s so 2007. Now there are iPhones and apps the skies the limit.

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