The Project Better Place is a joint venture by Israeli-American entrepreneur Shai Agassi and the Israeli government. With the aim to reduce significantly Israels dependence on foreign oil from undemocratic regimes, a nationwide network of electric cars will be available by 2011 if everything runs on schedule. Nissan and Renault will build the cars and the government will offer tax incentives to purchasers.
The innovative model, developed by Agassi, would provide consumers with inexpensive cars, and they would pay a monthly fee for expected mileage, like minutes on a cellphone plan. Project Better Place will provide infrastructure including parking meter-like plugs on city streets or service stations along highways at which batteries can be replaced.
This annoucement coincides with a rebirth of electric vehicles, thanks to a breakthourgh in energy storage based on nanotechnology. New Lithium batteries are developed from a family of different chemical combinations and have enabled new features such as charging cycles in excess of 20,000 while still retaining 85 percent of their capacity. The time required for recharing has been cut down to only 10 minutes, instead of many hours previously. Most importantly, the new batteries can store four times more electric energy than conventional ones and operate safely from -50° C to 75° C. With 3,000 charging cycles a battery would provide enough energy for a car to do 150,000 miles at 80 percent capacity.
Two years ago a Japanese team built a car called Eliica, short for Electric Lithium-Ion battery Car. This eight-wheeled, 600kW rocket served as proof that electric cars can be fast and fun. It boasts a neck-snapping 0-100kmh time of just four seconds and a 0-160kmh time of seven seconds - faster than a Porsche 911 Turbo. And for our American readers, the attractive new Teslasports car, built in Northern California, is now being marketed for $100k.