Is Israel Making the Electric Car Work?
The Renault Better Place, with its battery-swap system, could work economically.
January 27, 2012 - 12:00 am
And where does the electricity come from? In Israel, it is produced from a combination of coal imported from outside the Middle East, and increasingly, natural gas. With Israel going online in the next few years with natural gas pumped from its own offshore wells, that brings an increased measure of energy independence and wealth.
For $250 a month — price-fixed for four years — you also get an anti-theft tracking service and nationwide breakdown coverage.
The cost difference today between fuel in Israel and the U.S. is 110%. Today Israelis are paying $7.25 per gallon. In the U.S., $200 would buy you 1,150 miles at 20MPG. In Israel you’d only get 550 miles for that money in the same car. With the Better Place subscription, you can drive more than 1000 miles. It only takes U.S. gas to hit $3.86, and at these prices for the user, the EV car breaks even. By comparison, in Israel today the EV car can drive an extra 450 miles per month for no extra cost, and this only gets better if gas prices rise. That’s a four-year bet I’m more than willing to take today.
Since I rarely travel more than 100 miles in a day, the logistics and economics work and the car is attractive, roomy, and drives well. So I’ve ordered one. This approach may revolutionize transport, at least outside North America. The system will next be available in Denmark, followed perhaps by Holland.
The car is not made in Israel, which is a pity but not a disaster. The intellectual jobs and the creation of the most valuable intellectual property remain in Israel. There are numerous advances under the skin that make this a truly viable alternative to gasoline, especially in a compact country like Israel and many European countries.
Here’s the irony: without massive subsidies by the American taxpayer and overpriced, substandard government-mandated technology, electric cars may be becoming practical. The free market still works best.