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Oil-Poor Israel Gives The Electric Car A Home

By Stacy Feldman

Jan 21, 2008

We’ve mentioned the ambitious plans of Shai Agassi -- the former software giant turned electric car pioneer -- to reinvent the plug-in wheel. And now it's official: he’s landed himself a laboratory through which to realize his dream, : 

Israel, tiny and bereft of oil, has decided to embrace the electric car.

And Shai Agassi, and his startup have been hand-picked to drive the experiment. Along with Renault and Nissan who have signed on to provide the cars. (You can read the speech Agassi delivered today on Israel's announcement .)

Agassi’s charge is to provide the car's lithium-ion battery and to build the whole, countrywide infrastructure. That means creating the world's first electric car service stations that will allow drivers to charge their cars and swap batteries along the road.

Think cell phone model, applied to cars:

Purchasers get subsidized hardware — the car — and pay a monthly fee for expected mileage, like minutes on a cell phone plan, eliminating concerns about the fluctuating price of gasoline.

Some other tidbits of note:

  • Running the Agassi electric car is predicted to cost up to 50% less than a gas-fueled one, which in Israel costs about $6.28 a gallon.
  • The lithium-ion battery under development by Agassi will go 124 miles per charge and is expected to have a life of about 7,000 charges.
  • Agassi predicts 100,000 electric cars will be on Israel's roads by the end of 2010.
  • Agassi, Renault and Nissan hope to replicate their model in small countries like Denmark and in crowded cities that are already experimenting with congestion pricing, like London, Paris, Singapore and New York.
  • James D. Wolfensohn, former World Bank president, is an investor in the project.

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