THE FLUENCE ZE (Zero Emission) 390.
(photo credit: Nadav Shemer)
Better Place Israel announced the commercial launch of its Renault Fluence
electric vehicles on Sunday, almost six months after the first EVs hit the road
on the company’s fourth anniversary in January.
A television, newspaper
and Internet advertising campaign, run under the slogan “It’s not for
everybody,” will introduce the arguments in favor of electric vehicles and
present the types of people Better Place believes are not suited for them. The
expressed advantages include cost, no emissions, silent motors and lack of
Better Place has been under scrutiny for operating
behind schedule, and is sure to receive more attention for launching its
commercial phase later than the second-quarter target.
Founder and CEO
Shai Agassi has repeatedly blamed delays on difficulties with building permit
applications, and this was the same explanation marketing and strategy manager
Ori Lahav provided The Jerusalem Post
prior to Sunday’s launch.
delayed us a little were the battery stations, the whole subject of Form 4
[building applications]. Israeli bureaucracy really slowed us down,” Lahav
“The fact is we have already delivered cars to
customers. They have made do without a nationwide spread of battery
stations, [but] charging points, roadside assistance, everything works. Now the
battery stations are our focus, and that is where we are putting most of our
Around 250 cars are already on the road, owned by Better Place
employees, leasing companies, and a number of private individuals. Ten battery
stations are in complete operation, from Kiryat Gat in the south to Elyakim –
just outside Haifa – in the north. Thirtyeight will be in operation by
September, according to Lahav, making it possible to drive the entire length of
the country from Kibbutz Dan to Eilat.
As part of the commercial launch,
Better Place announced two new payment methods – pay as you go and pay and
drive. This follows negative feedback over the limitations of the original
monthly subscription format, which only started at a minimum 20,000 kilometers
The pay as you go plan will charge customers 65 agorot per
kilometer, provided they drive a minimum of 1,000 kilometers per month.
Customers who don’t drive 1,000 kilometers in any given month can transfer them
to the next month. For example, a customer that drives 900 kilometers in January
will be able to drive 1100 kilometers without exceeding the minimum
The pay and drive method will charge customers 55 agorot per
kilometer, provided they pay up front for 40,000 kilometers over a three-year
period or at least 50,000 kilometers over a four-year period.
Place and Union Bank have partnered to allow motorists to purchase this method
through up to 48 monthly installments.