Rent an electric car when you travel to Israel.
Often thought of as too expensive or sophisticated for the average driver, plug-in electric vehicles will soon be available even to the occasional driver. Israel’s largest car rental company, Eldan, signed an agreement with Better Place electric vehicle company on December 5, making hundreds of Renault Fluence Z.E. electric cars available to the general public by 2012 through Eldan’s standard rental program. The decision, which makes Eldan the first car rental company to offer EVs as an option, may push the electric vehicle (EV) farther into the Israeli mainstream.
“We are pleased to be the first company to offer drivers the opportunity to enjoy a new driving experience, and we call upon other companies to join the green trend with us,” said Eldan co-CEO Shai Dahan in a statement.
In a statement, Eldan said the partnership was a result of customer demand for electric vehicle rental options. But beyond simply encouraging other car rental companies to follow suit, the Better Place-Eldan partnership will also propel EV infrastructure developments forward. As part of the agreement, Better Place will install more EV infrastructure, including Charge Spots, Battery Switch Stations and Customer Care stations across the country.
Improved infrastructure is, in turn, likely to make purchase of an electric vehicle more enticing to mainstream Israelis.
“The agreement with Eldan enhances Better Place’s position in the Israeli market,” said Better Place Israel CEO Moshe Kaplinsky in a statement. “I am pleased that Eldan has identified this market demand.”
But even if Israel sees a more widespread adoption of electric vehicles, the country–which produces most of its electricity with fossil fuels–may not necessarily reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. And some have accused Better Place of putting more effort into its own monopoly over Israel’s EV infrastructure than into actually promoting clean technology.
It remains to be seen if Israel will manage to overhaul its electric generation system, using smart grid and demand response technology, to harness intermittent renewables and then use EVs as clean green energy storage. The Better Place-Eldan partnership could be the first step in that direction.