When a country can't buy oil from most of the Middle East, there are a few smart things to do: reduce consumption, buy from somewhere else, or, introduce the most revolutionary electric car infrastructure ever. For Israel, it's doing all three.
Renault's, soon to be electric, Megane. (from Channel4.com)
Nissan, Renault, and Merrill Lynch are all banking on the idea that consumers want to travel cheaply, and do it green. Which is why, they, among others, are financing a project to successfully introduce the mass use of electric cars in Israel. Why Israel? Well, it's small, gas is expensive (think Europe but without the high GDP), gas is hard to get, and the government is willing to give out massive tax breaks to see if the technology will pan out.
Announced on Monday, the plans for electric car infrastructure include the construction of 500,000 quick recharge points throughout Israel and tax breaks for electric vehicle buyers. With the tax breaks, electric cars in Israel will be less expensive to purchase than gasoline engine cars. And with 500,000 places to either recharge while you go get dinner, or just have the exhausted battery taken out and replaced with a juiced up one, a lot of consumers will probably be opening their checkbooks to take home an electric car.
Hopefully Israel gets the Megane Cabriolet in electric form (photo from carpages.co.uk)Renault, in association with Nissan, will be selling several of its standard vehicles in electric models for the Israeli market. These won't be weak electrics either; according to Bloomberg.com the electric engines will perform similarly to a 1.6 litre gasoline engine. With batteries built by NEC, the expected distance of Renault's electric vehicles is around 124 miles, pretty good considering that Israel is only one-third larger than New Jersey. Plus, Israel's most populous areas, aside from Eilat, are located relatively near each other. This means that, for an average Israeli, recharging an electric car at night after driving only a few miles is a feasible alternative to a gasoline engine vehicle. Renault is confident enough that the average Israeli will buy electric cars that it expects to sell 10,000 to 20,000 electric cars per year starting in 2011.
So, could anything hinder the Israeli electric car plan? The answer seems to be a tentative, "no". Unless consumers decide that they don't like the technology, or the vehicles/batteries do not perform as well as a traditional gasoline powered car, we may soon see the first country to successfully introduce widespread use of the electric car.
Sources: Bloomberg.com , NY Times
Middle Eastern Innovations Writer