Israel's Electric Car Project Aims to Eliminate Oil

The mobile phone model requires a pretty high hardware refresh rate, and if the auto makers are to be kept in the game they're going to want people to be moving up every few years.

Published: 23-Jan-2008

Israel today announced backing for Project Better Place, intended to switch motor transportation from oil to electric, and by a massive coincidence one of the project's prime movers, Shai Agassi of Better PLC, was evangelising at the DLD (Digital Life, Design) show in Munich. His objective, he says, is to "take one country off oil in a way that is repeatable." Israel is that country.

And the model is the mobile phone. Really. The point of choosing Israel, says Agassi, is that doing it in a chaotic country is important, and he claims Israel is the most chaotic nation he knows. Plus there are helpful limits to how far you can drive in Israel - the endurance of a electric car on one 'fill up' is about 200km, and that easily covers the furthest you can go within Israel.

He takes a pretty rational view of how far people are prepared to go to save the planet, and when it comes to cars that's not very far. It's got to be your car, no shares, with performance and size at least equivalent to today's models. It's got to be affordable (which includes image and cred, so lose points for non 'green' Hummers), and it's got to be fairly easy to 'fill up'. That last one's one of the gotchas of electric, and it's Agassi's primary point of attack. So you've got a vehicle that allows people to be green without it actually costing them anything to do so, and you've got the 'filling stations'.

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