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Renault-Nissan and Project Better Place Sign MoU for Mass Marketed EVs in Israel; Implementing New Ownership Model

The Project Better Place team converted a standard Renault Megane into an EV for demo purposes. Click to enlarge.

The Renault-Nissan Alliance and Project Better Place have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to catalyze the mass-market deployment of electric vehicles in Israel. The solution framework comes in response to the Israeli State’s challenge to the auto industry and its supply chain to migrate the country’s transportation infrastructure to renewable sources of energy.

As part of the solution framework, the Israeli government will provide tax incentives to customers, Renault will supply the electric vehicles, and Project Better Place will construct and operate an Electric Recharge Grid across the entire country. Electric vehicles will be available for customers in 2011.

The Renault EVs will be equipped with lithium-ion batteries produced by the joint venture of Nissan Motor, NEC Corporation, and NEC TOKIN Corporation—Automotive Energy Supply Corporation (AESC)—formed in 2007. (Earlier post.) The EVs will offer driving performance similar to a 1.6-liter gasoline engine, according to the company.

The Renault-Nissan Alliance / Project Better Place model will separate ownership of the car from the requirement to own a battery. Consumers will buy and own their car and subscribe to energy, including the use of the battery, on a basis of kilometers driven.

Shai Agassi, former SAP executive, formed Project Better Place last year with $200 million in first-round funding to focus on developing and deploying a regional and global infrastructure to support electric vehicles on a country-by-country basis. Project Better Place will establish a widespread grid of electric charging spots at current parking locations as well as battery exchange stations through software systems integration. (Earlier post.)

The collection of park and charge spots across a country or city, together with software that controls the timing for charging the cars, creates a smart grid—synchronized and extending the country’s existing electric grid, matching excess electricity on the grid with the need to charge batteries flattening the demand curve in the process. When we put together the charge points, the batteries, exchange stations, and the software that controls timing and routing we get a new class of infrastructure—the Electric Recharge Grid (ERG). A new category of companies will emerge in the next few years which will install, operate and service customers across this grid—called Electric Recharge Grid Operators (ERGOs).

—Project Better Place white paper distributed at EVS-23

Project Better Place plans to deploy an extensive network of 500,000 battery charging spots in Israel, eliminating concerns about driving range. An on-board computer system will indicate to the driver the remaining power supply and the nearest charging spot. Renault is working on development of exchangeable batteries for continuous mobility. The entire framework will go through a series of tests starting this year.

The Israeli government recently extended a tax incentive on the purchase of any zero-emissions vehicle until 2019, making them more affordable. Combined with the lower cost of electricity as opposed to fuel-based energy, and the vehicle’s lifetime guarantee, the total cost of ownership for the customer will be significantly lower than that of a fuel-based car over the life cycle of the vehicle, according to the partners.

The partners identify Israel as an ideal first mass market—90% of car owners drive less than 70 kilometers per day, and all major urban centers are less than 150 kilometers apart.

The Renault-Nissan Alliance, created in 1999, is the fourth largest automotive group in the world by sales volume (5,965,000 vehicles sold in 2006).


Markus Agassi's project starts making sense. This is a big leap for EVs. The industry needs more concerted projects like this and less CEOs trying to push their share-price up.

Harvey D


I agree with you. This may be what BEVs needed to be accepted and mass produced. Israel, being a captive restricted driving area, may be an ideal place for first generation BEVs.


Will BEV owners be allow to have and use their own over-night chargers?

Will BEV owners be allow to buy and own the battery pack?

In other words, is using the commercial charging stations + battery exchange an option for people who do not want to invest into thoses facilities?


I heard these EVs have a sensor on them that causes them to shut-down after sunset on Friday.


Project Better Place is an interesting name for it. Since NEC is doing the batteries, it sounds like this is a huge proving project. They will get a lot of data on the batteries in a very rigorous application.


Very encouraging news, looking forward to seeing it in action. I still think this program is weird; I am looking for an EV, not a club membership.

Ron Fischer

The EV enthusiast's dream company! Arrangement of the partners is impressive, along with PBP's tight focus on battery subscription and support.

US automakers will likely say that such a scheme would never work here because our country is just too darned big. Of course, that ignores how practical these things could be in larger cities like LA or New York.

Of course this all depends on whether their pricing works...


It works because gas is $6/gallon in Israel. It won't fly in the US until we have $5 or $6 gas. Will politicians add a $2-3 carbon tax?


Good for Isreal. You go.

@ds or a sensor, with gps to shut down six times a day hmm.


"It works because gas is $6/gallon in Israel. It won't fly in the US until we have $5 or $6 gas."

Ron Fisher, EV would work here, it's the Auto companies that don't want cars that last forever and don't need anywhere near the maintenance that an internal combustion engine requires.

If the US Postal Service placed an order for EV's with PV's on the roof, it would be viable in the US to produce.

Henry Gibson

Most US Postal delivery vehicles can be powered by ZEBRA batteries charged at the office just like the London delivery lorries. The smallest Honda portable generator with a gallon of gas will always get them back to the office....HG....

John Taylor

It is about time some country put in an infrastructure for plug in Electric cars.

Way to show leadership Israel.


I ve heard that Israel wants to install huge solar power plants (as it is well suited due to its geo-location) in addition to the EV initiative. Has anybody additional information about this ?


I ve heard that Israel wants to install huge solar power plants (as it is well suited due to its geo-location) in addition to the EV initiative. Has anybody additional information about this ?


Great Idea, the originator of the concept EVIN, who has a patent in the U.S. (possibly the real reason Agassi is doing it abroad) has the economic model of leased batteries working for $2.50 per gallon gasoline and above.
EVIN is near completion of their first prototype vehicle, to promote the EVIN concept in the U.S.

Jacob Nieman

I'm doing a report in my technology class and I picked this topic. I was wondering if anyone could provide any information on the brief history and reasons why Israel would go this route (I need valid resources please). I can't wait to get started, this is an interesting project. Thanks

Please email me if you have any leads

[email protected]

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