The Transportation Ministry has approved the import of 13 Renault Fluence electric vehicles by the Better Place company to begin testing the company’s infrastructure.

Better Place is looking to begin commercial operations late in 2011.

The ministry announced Sunday that it had approved the import after signing oversight orders which, among other things, eased the criteria to allow new importers into the automobile market. The cars are set to begin arriving within two weeks.

The ministry also approved the import of the Renault Kangoo, the first electric vehicle for commercial use. Additional electric vehicles for non-commercial use were expected to arrive in 2011, the ministry said, including models from Citroen, Mitsubishi and Nissan.

Approving Better Place’s request and the additional future imports are part of the ministry’s plan to encourage more environmentally friendly and safer vehicles.

The ministry has also asked the Standards Institution of Israel to form a committee to draw up standards for electric cars and their infrastructure. The committee expects to publish the standards sometime next year.

Better Place will use the 13 vehicles to test its system of charging spots and battery- switch stations, as well as in its demonstration center at Pi Glilot.

Meanwhile, The Marker reported that the National Infrastructures Ministry was planning to forbid the charging of vehicles directly out of one’s home. According to the business paper, the reason for the policy would be to regulate demand for electricity.

If it this policy is implemented, it would benefit Better Place as the only company planning to offer charging infrastructure and a partnership with a car manufacturer.

Israel will be the first country where the Better Place system will be fully deployed, to be followed shortly thereafter by Denmark.



The company also has agreements with a number of US states and cities and with places in Australia as well.

Better Place was founded by Israeli entrepreneur Shai Agassi and is based in California and Israel.

There are already 10,000 hybrid cars and 8,000 natural gas powered cars on Israel’s roads, the ministry said.

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