Israeli Auto Industry to Plug In

Today, Ehud Olmert announced that Israel is turning to electric automobile infrastructure to solve the problems of an oil-poor nation politically and canonically separated from its oil-rich neighbors. With its geographically proximal urbanized areas (Tel Aviv <-> Jerusalem = 40 mi), high oil prices (> $6.25 / gallon of gasoline) and abundance of alternative energy sources (solar primarily, wind + tidal secondarily), Israel may very well be the ideal testing ground for state-funded electric car infrastructure.
The State of Israel will model its program on modern mobile phone usage: first, provide users with discounted hardware. This "discount" will take the form of huge tax breaks in a country where fees surpass 60% of the cost of a new car. Second, offer usage "plans" which are not directly linked to the volatile price of natural resources, with overage charges for citizen who overstep their predicted usage.

This initiative is a public-private partnership, with $200 million in public funding provided to Californian-Israeli startup Project Better Place to set up charging infrastructure and provide batteries. Batteries are to be lithium-ion chem cells providing 124 miles per charge, which in Israel is a reasonable distance; at least some of the recharging is to take place at transfer stations where discharged batteries will be removed and fresh ones inserted, eliminating the charge downtime which most frustrates current electric car users.

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