Is the electric car feasible for Israel?

Government issues tender to analyze alternative energy vehicles.

By EHUD ZION WALDOKS
August 26, 2010 22:22
3 minute read.
The Better Place taxis.

better place taxis 311. (photo credit: Better Place)

 
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The National Infrastructures Ministry on Thursday issued a tender for a consultant to do an economic analysis of the feasibility of electric cars compared to gasoline-powered and other alternative energy vehicles.

The ministry said it was committed to cleaner transport to reduce air pollution and wean Israel as much as possible off of foreign oil.

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Electric cars are one option for more environmentally friendly transport, and they have their advantages and drawbacks. For example, there is no air pollution and little noise from the electric car itself. However, if the electric car charges from electricity that is produced by a polluting power station, then it can make the power station work harder, which in turn generates more pollution.

On the other hand, it is not yet clear how much additional generator use a network of electric cars would require, since charging would be governed by a “smart system” that charges the cars during off-peak times, such as at night.

It is theoretically possible that the network would not put any extra strain on the electricity grid.

Once electric-car infrastructure developer Better Place enters the Israeli market next year, more data will become available.

Other alternatives to gasoline include hybrid cars that use both a gasoline engine and an electric motor. Regular gasoline-powered cars can be retrofitted to run on natural gas as well, which is cleaner. In the future, cars might run on hydrogen fuel cells.

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The deadline for the tender is September 19. The contract would be for a year, with an option to extend it for another two years.

According to the tender, the consultant will be asked to evaluate cleantransport options and the electric car and its components, including its infrastructure requirements such as the electricity grid. Energy needs of current electric cars and those in development and the environmental ramifications based on energy use will also be examined.

The consultant will prepare a comparison of costs of an electric-car network versus those based on liquid oil (gasoline, diesel and hybrid).

The consultant will estimate the impact of electric cars on national infrastructures, particularly the electricity grid, and prepare a presentation of the current regulatory and legislative picture.

Finally, the consultant will predict the development of the electric car in Israel over the next decade and prepare recommendations.

Meanwhile, Better Place announced Thursday that it has extended its switchable-battery electric-vehicle (EV) taxi pilot in Tokyo to operate through the end of the year.

“Up to this point, there has been very little information about how an EV battery will perform in heavily used, realworld taxi conditions,” said Kiyotaka Fujii, president of Better Place Japan.

“This program has provided us with critical insights into the battery performance in a switch model and switch-station performance for the toughest customers – taxi drivers.

“By extending this program, we hope to gain further insights into the battery performance and durability of the switch station itself, which will be invaluable as we move toward commercial launch later next year in Israel and Denmark.”

The current trial began on April 26.

Operations were to be temporarily suspended during August, so that EV battery and onboard vehicle data could be analyzed. Service was expected to resume again on September 1, the company said.

“While a comprehensive analysis of the data is still being conducted,” Better Place said, “some initial data points about the taxi project include: 40,311 – number of kilometers driven; taxi drivers went through the switch station 2,122 times; average switch time was 59.1 seconds; 3,020 passengers have ridden in the taxis.”

Better Place is building an infrastructure of charging points, battery-switch stations and the technology to control them for electric vehicles.

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