Renault-Nissan Alliance and Project Better Place aim to create a breakthrough with electric vehicles in Israel. This comes in response to the Israeli State's challenge to migrate the country's transportation infrastructure to renewable sources of energy. The Israeli government would provide tax incentives to customers, Renault would supply the electric vehicles, and Project Better Place would construct and operate an Electric Recharge Grid across the entire country. Electric vehicles will be available for customers in 2011.
According to the New York Times, Renault (EPA: RNO) will offer a small number of electric models of existing vehicles, like the Megane sedan, at prices roughly comparable to gasoline models. The vehicles will run on pure electricity for all functions. The objective of zero emissions will be achieved, while at the same time offering driving performances similar to a 1.6 liter gasoline engine. Renault's electric vehicles will be equipped with lithium-ion batteries, ensuring greater driving range and longevity.
"Dozens of electric cars will go on the roads for thorough testing this year. There's already an operational prototype. I've driven it, and it goes from 0 to 100 kmh in 7.5 seconds. In other words, there's a product and it's one of the fastest cars on the road."
Shai Agassi, CEO A Better Place, Globes Online Feb. 22, 2008
Ownership of the car will not include the battery. Consumers will buy and own their car and subscribe to energy, including the use of the battery, on a basis of kilometers driven.
California-based Project Better Place (PBP) plans to deploy a massive network of battery charging spots. Customers will be able to plug their cars into charging units in any of the 500,000 charging spots in Israel. An on-board computer system will indicate to the driver the remaining power supply and the nearest charging spot.
Nissan (NASDAQ: NSANY), through its joint venture with NEC, has created a battery pack that meets the requirements of the electric vehicle and will produce it in mass volume. Renault is working on development of exchangeable batteries for continuous mobility. Also according to the NYT, PBP and the consumers who use it, will normally recharge their batteries, which will provide 124 miles per charge, at night, when the electricity is cheapest, and they expect the batteries to have a life of 7,000 charges. The entire framework will go through a series of tests starting this year.
In Israel, which does not produce any oil, where gasoline is selling for over $6.00 a gallon, where 90% of car owners drive less than 70 kilometers per day, and all major urban centers are less than 150 kilometers apart, electric vehicles may be the ideal means of transportation.