Saturday, December 20, 2008

Electric Cars in Israel?

A company called Better Place has begun construction of a nationwide network of recharging sites to support electric cars throughout the state of Israel.  They also have pilot projects underway in Hawaii and elsewhere.  Their cars are built in partnership with Renault-Nissan, and have similar acceleration and top speed as typical gas-powered vehicles.

I'm highly skeptical of electric cars in general, but I find this company interesting.  They understand that you can't sell electric cars without first having a support network in place.  Their website puts forth all sorts of grandiose plans, but it appears that they are taking things one step at a time, in a more realistic manner than some of their propaganda might suggest.  It will be interesting to see if they succeed in creating a support network in Israel, and whether or not the cars themselves can be commercially viable.


  1. The thing I'm most interested in is the choice of Israel as the country to build this network in. My guess is that the company was looking for a densely populated developed country without good mass transit; Israel's about the only one that fits all criteria.

    Like you, I'm skeptical about electric cars. They have short range, which makes them limited to commute trips and sometimes short shopping trips, which are exactly the kind of trips mass transit tends to be better at. They also cause as much congestion a regular cars, a serious problem in Tel Aviv, where many avenues have rush hour traffic jams that make crosstown Manhattan traffic look fast.

    I'm also skeptical that the cars will be able to be recharged in minutes and still cost less than gas-powered cars. Both are beyond the limit of current technology.

  2. Alon,

    According to their site the cars have a 100 mile range, which isn't too bad -- and better than other electric car projects I've seen before. Their site is very slick, and it is hard to tell how much is total bs, and how much technology is actually in place.

    It's also unclear how much electricity is going to be provided by alternative sources, and how much by the regular power grid. If the regular grid has to supply most of the power, that wouldn't be good to say the least.

  3. Well, Israel's power comes exclusively from coal and some form of oil or natural gas whose English name and meaning I don't know... so much for reducing emissions.

    So far, electric car technology hasn't been able to produce stable, long-range batteries for reasonable prices. Even motorcycles, which consume a fraction of the energy of cars, top at 70-80 miles and 80 mph, and cost about $10,000.