As the rest of the world grows stymied over the multiple alternatives to oil that are combating for a market share the Israeli government in a cooperative effort with Project Better Place and Renault-Nissan is preparing for the future. …The very near future. The plan calls for the mass marketing of an electric vehicle (EV) with an inter-changeable battery system and a series of battery recharging/swapping stations through-out Israel by 2011. What appears like an overly ambitious plan with a short time-table is potentially a daring adventure based on a working model: the mobil phone.
Just as cell phone towers span the land to spread each cellular companies signals to all areas, so to will the refueling stations for the battery powered cars. The cars on-board computer will calculate the amount of charge remaining in the battery and will also calculate the distance to the nearest recharging station.
To put this plan in action it is taking the cooperation of many groups. First the Israeli government lifted the tax on EV cars until 2018. Renault has signed on to build the initial cars for the program that will come with a lifetime warranty and space for an interchangeable battery. Then Nissan jumped in with the agreement to build the batteries for the system with the aid of NEC. Thus it will be up to Project Better Place to build the infrastructure along the roadways, much as gasoline stations do today, where car owners can come for a necessary charge.
The battery system for the EV plan will be more subscription based than owner based. When you buy the car it does not come with the battery. The owner subscribes for battery usage just as they do a cell phone. Thus as the need arises an exhausted battery can be swapped out (presumably with little trouble) for a freshly charged battery. It is said the subscription fee will be based on kilometers just as cell phone subscribers buy their plans by minutes of use.
We cannot help but be impressed and inspired by the thorough planning that has gone into the Israeli project, which aims to serve as a working model for the rest of the world. Their target date of 2011 is indeed ambitious but should not be unattainable. The success of the plan will be based on the battery subscriptions that can maintain the Project Better Place recharging stations. Unlike the typical gasoline station the battery recharging stations will not be dependent on customers. The subscriptions to the service will support the stations operations whether or not they are busy on a daily basis.
As the EV plan gains a foothold in the Israeli auto market you can look for other auto manufacturers to join in. In order to lure the pro-sumer from his regular gas guzzling ride toward an EV that fits the recharging system it will be important for their to be exciting designs. While Renault was smart to jump in at the beginning they are not necessarily recognized for their exciting nor innovative designs.
Look for more news on this topic in the months to come and for further information on the over-all plan head on over to Project Better Place’s website. It would appear that they are going to be very busy the next few years.