Beleaguered EV start-up Better Place faced yet another blow this week, as Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn declared that rapid-charging, not swappable batteries, will be the predominant charging technology for EVs.
We continue to travel around the world and explore what the main car markets in the world looked like in 2012. We have gone through the Chinese, European, Russian and Indian markets already, now let’s have a look at Israel….
Not really interested? That’s ok, you can check out the best-selling models and brands in 172 additional countries and territories on my blog. Enjoy!
Back to Israel. And in Israel, Mazda is so 2011 right now…
After launching a successful bicycle sharing service, Tel Aviv is looking to launch an electric car program using the same model, as a means of reducing private car ownership.
50 Cabinet ministers, judges and high ranking police officials in Israel were offered the choice of a new state car this past summer, and had the option of a BMW 528i or a Citroen C5. 28 of the 50, mostly cabinet ministers, picked the Citroen after a significant public backlash surrounded the BMWs.
Please welcome Jeff Jablansky, our newest guest writer and resident messhugeneh
Attempting to carve into the curves of the Ramon Crater with a machine as dull as a Hyundai Getz is like trying to slice sashimi with a plastic knife. Or performing surgery with knitting needles.
Now if you’re already Middle East-ed out after one week in Oman, that’s ok because I have prepared 159 additional countries for you to visit in my blog, so don’t be shy and click away!
For those of you who have been meticulously reading my articles week after week you will remember that we have already been in Israel back in August last year. Oh yes but at that time the only ‘data’ I had access to was from 2010 and it was very incomplete. Plus a lot of change has happened since, with Mazda not dominating anymore!
So jump into it after the jump…
One of the biggest clouds hovering over Better Place’s venture in Israel – and globally – is what stands behind the well-prepared presentations and thoroughly thought out, customer-oriented marketing. What makes the seemingly adventurous venture appealing to the business hounds investing their best capital in it? Such questions from journalists are usually answered with a neat smile, a corporate joke and a dry statement.
While Better Place still isn’t revealing its global business plan, it finally sheds some light on the numbers behind its Israeli venture, as part of a worldwide roadshow in preparation for the company’s upcoming $300 million capital raising.
If you live there, have been there or simply are not in the mood today, I have your back: there are 155 additional countries to be explored in my blog so click away!
Now those of you who have been following these weekly posts for a while are already familiar with the car landscape of neighboring countries like Egypt and Syria. Well, Israel is another beast altogether, with a set of popular brands unique in the world…
In the last time we heard from Better Place – a little less than two months ago – we’ve witnessed the unfolding of the company’s first functional battery swap station. And yet we were left with one big question mark hovering over the entire project: the price for the end customer.
This question is particularly crucial for the Israeli market, where the vast majority of people owns a car and uses it for their daily commutes and where gas prices are amongst the highest in the world – about $8.3 per gallon. And while the company has already unveiled its prices for the Danish market, it hasn’t revealed the price of the car and monthly subscription for the Israeli market – until now.
When Better Place launched their Visitor Center in Tel Aviv, the attending journalists’ fingers couldn’t keep up with all the numbers and the promises flogged by the company chiefs: tens of battery switch stations to be built, hundreds of charging stations to be deployed and a thousand cars to be sold to Israeli customers each month.
Just over a year has passed since these statements made air, and in typical Israeli fashion – most of the goals were not met. Despite promising to begin delivery of cars in the beginning of 2011, Better Place has not sold a single car over the four months that passed since New Year’s Eve. And the number of battery switch stations built in Israel was – you guessed it – exactly zero. Until now.
Hybrid cars may be green, but are they dangerous? According to Israel’s of Environmental Protection, this may be the case. A research committee funded by the ministry studied radiation from hybrid vehicles over the course of the last nine months, found ‘surplus’ radiation in some models sold in Israel and worldwide, reports Israel’s The Marker.
Charging stations are okay, really. Battery swapping stations are even better, and I honestly have nothing against Lithium-ion batteries. But we love cars, not infrastructure, and that’s what has been missing from our Better Place coverage: real car related stuff. So here I am, in the front seat of Better Place’s actual electric car. Of course, when I say actual, what I mean is that this is actually a Renault Laguna, a rather bland French midsize car, and one car Renault doesn’t intend to electrify in its joint venture with Better Place. So what’s its business being green in the car park with stickers all around it reading ‘EV’ and flowers emitting from its exhaust?
How do you make the world a Better Place? If you ask Shai Agassi, president and founder of the eponymous American-Israeli Company, the answer lies in the development of an infrastructure that makes charging an electric car as simple as pulling over in a gas station. This deceptively simple idea has spawned an international project, which brings together automakers, governments, activists and scientists in a hugely ambitious attempt at creating the first localized electric vehicle charging infrastructures. With brand new technology, millions of tax dollars and the fate of at least one global automaker hanging in the balance, the evolution of Better Place is a crucial story in the rise of electric vehicles. But before we begin chronicling the build-up to this ambitious plan, we have to get back to the basics of EVs and their fundamental shortcomings.
Along with Israel, Denmark is one of the first countries to sign on to Project Better Place’s attempt to establish a viable electric car infrastructure. And as with all early adopters, Denmark is paying a pretty price for the experiment. The country is spending $100m on infrastructure, including charging points and battery-swap stations. Moreover, Better Place’s partner, public utility Dong Energy, is trying to run the new EV infrastructure entirely on wind power, which is already the source of 20 percent of Denmark’s energy. “We’re the perfect match for a windmill-based utility,” Better Place founder and CEO Shai Agassi tells the NY Times. “If you have a bunch of batteries waiting to be charged, it’s like having a lot of buckets waiting for rain.” Despite the close government involvement in the project, Danes are still wary of making a wholesale switch to EVs, prompting the government to offer $40,000 in consumer incentives for electric vehicles, as well as free parking in downtown Copenhagen. Though there’s plenty of skepticism in Denmark about the plan, that incentive is expected to make a huge difference.