The rumors flew around and around, but now it's official. Israel has signed on to convert a massive number of their vehicles to electric power, starting in 2011.
We've discussed the plan a few times before. It's the brainchild of Shai Agassi, and it's called "Project Better Place," which I can't stop thinking is a really lame name. Anyhow, the idea is, as Agassi puts it, to make the batteries the gas, instead of the gas tank. So instead of waiting six hours while your batteries charge, you simply pull up to a batter-switching station, and get a new (fully charged) battery, and the station takes your old battery for recharging.
Israel, Project Better Place, and Renault-Nissan have joined together and have agreed to make this a reality with over 500,000 charging ports in parking spots across the country, and 200 battery-swap stations. Israel is investing heavily in the infrastructure, as well as reducing their (extremely high) automobile tax to only 10% for electric vehicles.
The coalition plans to have a pilot project in place by 2009 and large-scale production and infrastruction completed by 2011.
While this is awesome, I remain skeptical...certainly of that release date. It will require a massive investment on the part of Israel and Project Better Place to get the swap stations built and filled with expensive, untested, lithium ion battery packs.
That being said, I want nothing more than for this to happen as soon as possible. If Israel can prove that this model works, and in only three years' time, then the world can't be far behind.
written by Derek Conlon, February 01, 2008
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