Tesla Motors, the California maker of prestigious and high priced total electric sports cars is still to become a true reality in most countries of the Middle East where men prefer big, gas guzzling cars. But it might fill the gap after the failure of Better Place. More than casual interest has been expressed in Israel and the Middle East region for the company’s cars which can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph (90 kph) in less than 5 seconds and travel more than 200 miles or 300 km on a full charge.
The company’s Model S sports salon model, pictured above, with factory sticker prices ranging from $67,400 onwards is now rumored to soon be available in Israel, according to a recent Channel 2 television feature program which stated that Tesla cars may be available here in the near future.
In addition, their battery recharging infrastructure could take place on existing Better Place infrastructure, the now-defunct company known for its unique battery “swapping” service network in both Israel and Denmark.
Better Place filed for bankruptcy yesterday, but perhaps Tesla could take over Better Place assets and make the dream a reality. We sensed something was amiss when France’s Renault Motors said it was “ready to give up” on making the expensive exchangeable lithium battery packs.
The short Channel 2 news magazine program in Israel called, The World Tonight, included a presentation by Tesla Motor’s CEO Elon Musk , the South African – American entrepreneur who helped found the company as well as the online payment company PayPal .
Musk also founded the space exploration technology company SpaceX .
Although produced in Hebrew, the World Tonight program episode shown here does give an possible indication that the Tesla cars may very well be sold soon in Israel. Better Place might have spent its hundreds of millions to educate the consumer and pave the way for a more realistic EV network in Israel.
The World Tonight show also spoke about the Better Place company and its battery exchange technology, now already in place in Israel.
The program highlighted the technology involved in the Tesla S sports salon model, including its battery pack with which the company hopes to be able to increase its storage ability to as much as 500 km.
Ways of extending the cruising range of Tesla cars are in place and Tesla is working on “battery swapping technology” as well, technology that would enable a driver to “refuel” in the same time it takes to fill up the tank of an ordinary gasoline driven car.
This ability to greatly extend the car’s driving range will help overcome the problem of “range anxiety”, an issue that vexes electric car owners and deters potential buyers from acquiring them.
As far as when, or if Tesla electric models will actually be available in Israel, I contacted Tesla Motor’s headquarters in Palo Alto, California and was told by Tesla spokesperson, Shanna Hendriks, who said: “I am not aware that there are any plans for Israel,” regarding selling their cars there.
Contacting Better Place’s Israeli headquarters at Pi Glilot, north of Tel Aviv, didn’t help much either. Ayala Resher, a PR person with Better Place, said she herself did not have any knowledge of her company’s possible involvement with Tesla Motors. Another Better Place representative, Yael Weinstein, said: “I know only what I saw on TV,” regarding Tesla cars being available for sale in Israel and serviced by her company’s battery charging network. There was no hint that something was amiss in Better Place when I called last week.
Possible conclusions that can drawn is that either the World Tonight story was not really true; or that it is being kept under wraps by both Tesla Motors and existing Better Place assets until the right time will come to reveal the news to the general public.
At an estimated cost of over NIS 350,000 ($97,200) even the basic model won’t be everyone’s car for sure. “Tesla cars cost more than three times the price of our Renault Fluence ZE cars,” says BP’s Yael Weinstein.
But Tesla cars look a whole hell of a lot cooler.
Read more on electric cars:
Happy 2013; A Good Year For Electric Cars
The Middle East Can Only Drool Over Tesla Electric Sport Roadsters
Tesla Motors IPO Races Through Dubai, But is The EV Practical?
Renault Gives Up on Israel’s Swappable Electric Car Batteries
Photo: Tesla Motors: