Monday, January 21, 2008

Israel set to adopt electric cars produced by Renault-Nissan and Project Better Place

For the first time in history, all the conditions necessary for electric vehicles to be successfully mass-marketed will be brought together in a partnership between the Renault-Nissan Alliance and Project Better Place in Israel.

In an agreement signed today in Jerusalem, the Israeli government will provide tax incentives to customers, Renault will supply the electric vehicles, and Project Better Place will construct and operate an Electric Recharge Grid across the entire country. Electric vehicles will be available to customers in 2011.

100% electric vehicles: According to a press release, the Renault-manufactured vehicles will run on pure electricity for all functions, produce zero emissions, and offer driving performances similar to a standard 1.6 liter gasoline engine. The vehicles will be equipped with lithium-ion batteries supplied by Nissan.

Innovative business model: For the first time in the electric vehicle business, ownership of the car is separated from the requirement to own a battery. Consumers will buy and own the car and subscribe to energy, including use of the battery, on the basis of kilometers driven. This model is similar to the way mobile phones are sold, with an initial purchase and a monthly subscription for the mobility service.

Competitive cost of ownership: The Israeli government recently extended a tax incentive on the purchase of any zero-emission vehicle until 2019, making them more affordable. 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 of the life cycle of the vehicle.

Electric Recharge Grid infrastructure: California-based Project Better Place plans to deploy a massive network of battery charging spots. Driving range will no longer be an obstacle, because 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 systems will indicate to the driver the remaining power supply and the nearest charging spot. Project Better Place, founded by Israeli entrepreneur Shai Agassi, has already raised $200 million from investors.

Perfect first mass market: In Israel, where 90% of car owners drive less than 70 kilometers per day, and all major urban centers are less than 150 kilometers apart, electric vehicles would be the ideal means of transportation and could therefore cover most of the population's transportation needs.

The story is already being covered by the New York Times and the Financial Times. More information is also available on the new web site for Project Better Place.

Related Posts:

Better Place secures $350 million series B round led by HSBC

Better Place raises €103 million, names new Danish CEO

Deustche Bank: Project Better Place has "the potential to eliminate the gasoline engine"

Shai Agassi unveils Project Better Place electric car