Israel’s electric vehicles

Fuel research lab

Shai Agassi has a bold plan to transform personal transportation in Israel: electric cars built by Renault and Nissan using lithium-ion batteries from NEC. The crucial difference between this plan and those simply intended to encourage customers to buy individual electric vehicles is that Agassi’s company plans to provide battery infrastructure, in the form of recharging outlets and battery swap stations. Each battery is initially expected to provide 124 miles (200 km) per charge, with recharging happening both at parking-meter type stations and at centres where depleted batteries can be swapped immediately for charged ones. The batteries are expected to last 1,500 charges, or 150,000 miles (240,000 km).

The pricing model is also interesting. While it is still evolving, it will probably take the form of a monthly fee based on expected mileage. The company selling the battery exchange plans will subsidize the purchase of the cars, to some extent, increasing the rate at which people switch over from gasoline vehicles. The Israeli government has pledged $200 million to help get the scheme running. Given the incentives for clean vehicles that the government has promised to maintain until at least 2015, company officials suggest that their electric cars will cost half as much to buy and operate as gasoline ones would.

Israel does have unique characteristics that arguably make this approach especially suitable. Foremost among those may be its small size. One of Agassi’s batteries would be sufficient to drive across it from east to west, with two or three being required to go from north to south. That said, if this model proves successful, one could certainly imagine it working in other relatively confined high-density areas, from Manhattan to Shanghai.

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

12 thoughts on “Israel’s electric vehicles”

  1. Interesting. Presumably these cars will look distinctive and there will be controls on who buys / rents them, in which case it would presumably become easier to spot the cars of ‘legitimate’ Israelis and differentiate them from the Palestinians, Human Rights activists etc who travel about semi-illicitly. Since the battery infrastructure would presumably be supplied according to the organisational whim of the Israeli government, they would presumably under-resource the Palestinian areas (as they appear to do with most things, eg. power & water) & have greater capacity to totally cut off supplies than is true at the present, when petrol can be brought in from elsewhere. Perhaps I’m being too cynical, but I suspect this green scheme might have non-environmental advantages for the Israeli government – plus some good PR amongst lefty types.

  2. That’s an awfully biased assessment. It’s not as though every aspect of Israeli society is calculated to inflict maximum cruelty against the Palestinians. If you assume so from the outset, you just get into a self-reinforcing pattern of cynicism.

  3. I certainly wouldn’t claim that every aspect of Israeli society is oriented towards maximal punishment of Palestinians; however, the government do have a tendency to establish the key infrastructure in ways which provide substandard resources and services to Palestinian areas and to deliberately restrict the movement of Palestinians (hence the plethora of slow, unreliable checkpoints; the wall; and highways which link together settlements while bypassing Palestinian villages). There are fascinating geographical studies of the ways the Israeli government use space, in what has been termed “besieging cartography”, and the movement of people is clearly one of the key ways in which they exert control.

  4. From the Israeli Ministry of the Environment site:

    “In 2006, the IEC’s installed generating capacity totaled 10,487 MW. Of this, coal-fired generating capacity was about 46.2% of the total generating capacity. Gas oil-fired capacity was about 31.7% of the total generating capacity. Fuel oil-fired steam-powered generating capacity was about 5.7% of the total installed generating capacity. The remainder, about 16.4% of the total generating capacity, was natural gas.

    In 2006, coal and natural gas were the main fuels used in the generation of electricity – 70.8% of the total electricity was produced with coal and 18.0% using natural gas. According to the IEC’s development plans, the generating system in Israel will continue to be based on coal and natural gas in the future, although the proportion between coal and gas will change. By the end of the decade, about 60% of the installed generating capacity of the IEC will be based on natural gas.”

  5. GM to start testing batteries for Volt plug-in hybrid

    Vehicle will be launched in 2010

    Apr 04, 2008 02:52 PM The Associated Press

    WARREN, Mich. – General Motors Corp. said Thursday it is installing in test vehicles the lithium-ion batteries that will be used in the extended-range plug-in electric Chevrolet Volt when it launches in two years.

  6. well this may and hopefully will be the begining of the end of the huge oil companies and simutaniously delete the cash rich oil nations which are both anti israel and anti US. But I am sure the Oil supported US Government will steal as much money from its citizens as it can before it goes down.

  7. Electric vehicles

    May 8th 2008
    From The Economist print edition
    Renault-Nissan’s ambitious plans for all-electric cars

    COMMITMENT is one of Carlos Ghosn’s favourite words. He makes commitments himself and he expects his senior managers in the Renault-Nissan alliance to do the same. His latest, and one of his boldest, is that Renault and Nissan will lead the car industry in developing profitable zero-emission vehicles.

  8. “In recent months Renault-Nissan has teamed up with Project Better Place, a Silicon Valley start-up, to introduce all-electric vehicles and a network of charging points in Israel and Denmark by 2011. Now Nissan is going further. Speaking at a media event in Portugal this week, Mr Ghosn said that the time for the mass-market zero-emission car has come. Nissan plans to launch a battery-powered car in America in 2010 and by 2012 the Renault-Nissan alliance will offer a complete range of electric vehicles in every large car-market. And these new battery-powered cars, it claims, will work out less expensive than equivalent petrol models.”

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