Israel Will Be Test Market For Electric Cars

Consumers can get their electric cars by 2011.

A partnership between Renault-Nissan Alliance and Project Better Place will result in electric vehicles being mass-marketed in Israel. Renault will supply the electric vehicles, and Project Better Place will construct and operate an Electric Recharge Grid across the entire country, while the Israeli government will provide tax incentives to customers. Electric vehicles will be available to customers in 2011.

The energy solution comes in response to Israeli's challenge to the auto industry and its supply chain to migrate the country's transportation infrastructure to renewable sources of energy.

Renault's vehicles will run on pure electricity for all functions. The objective of zero emissions will be achieved, while at the same time offering driving performances similar to a 1.6 liter gasoline engine. Renault's electric vehicles will be equipped with lithium-ion batteries.

Consumers will use this technology similar to how mobile phones are sold since the ownership of the car is separate from the requirement to own a battery. Consumers will buy and own their car and subscribe to energy, including the use of the battery, on a basis of kilometers driven.

A network of battery charging spots will be operated by Project Better Place. Customers will be able to plug their cars into charging units in any of the 500,000 charging spots in Israel. An on-board computer system will indicate to the driver the remaining power supply and the nearest charging spot. Nissan, through its joint venture with NEC, has created a battery pack that meets the requirements of the electric vehicle and will mass produce it.

Renault is working on development of exchangeable batteries for continuous mobility. The entire framework will go through a series of tests starting this year.

Israel is an ideal test market since 90% of car owners drive less than 70 kilometers per day, and all major urban centers are less than 150 kilometers apart, allowing electric vehicles to cover most of the population's transportation needs.

And the Israeli government is helping as well by extending a tax incentive on the purchase of any zero-emissions vehicle until 2019. Combined with the lower cost of electricity as opposed to fuel-based energy, and the vehicle's lifetime guarantee, the total cost of ownership for the customer will be significantly lower than that of a fuel-based car over the life cycle of the vehicle.

Project Better Place, based in Palo-Alto, Calif. is headed by Shai Agassi an American-Israeli entrepreneur. It is a venture-backed company that aims to reduce global dependency on oil through the creation of a market-based transportation infrastructure that supports electric vehicles, providing consumers with a cleaner, sustainable, personal transportation alternative. Launched in October 2007, Project Better Place will build its first pilot Electric Recharge Grid in Israel and plans to deploy the infrastructure on a country-by-country basis with initial deployments beginning in 2010.

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