Startup wires parking lot for electric
Dec 8, 2008 - Shawna Ohm - The Associated
Instead of filling up at the pump, soon Israeli
motorists will be able to fill their cars up at the
That's the idea behind Monday's demonstration of
the parking lot of the future, equipped with stations
to charge the battery-powered cars scheduled to ply
Israel's streets in 2011. Israel's government has
endorsed the project, which aims to blanket the country
with electric cars and plugs.
The California-based company, Project Better Place,
is building the infrastructure to switch Israeli drivers
over to battery power. The group has built 400 wired
parking spots, mainly in and around Tel Aviv, since
it launched the initiative in June.
Demonstrating the first 10 stations in a Tel Aviv
mall parking lot, organizers explained that drivers
can charge their cars while shopping.
Charging stations are 3-foot-high pedestals with
curly-cued cords attached. A triangular plug fits
into a socket where a car's gas tank usually is.
Pini Leiberman, manager of infrastructure for Project
Better Place, says the group hopes to wire 100,000
parking spots in Israel by 2010. The plugs will energize
a fleet of electric cars being developed by the Renault-Nissan
Alliance scheduled to hit the streets of Israel in
The car prototype was first demonstrated in May.
Israel's government believes it's a way to reduce
Israel's dependence on oil and reduce pollution.
However, there are concerns that the cars can drive
only short distances before they need to be charged.
Leiberman said wired parking lots like the one displayed
Monday can help solve the problem. He added that in
2010 there should be charging stations every 25 miles
Also, Leiberman said the company is developing battery
changing stations, so drivers with no time to charge
can trade drained batteries for charged ones.
Drivers who recharge at parking lots will pay by
the mile. Computers will look at how much electricity
the car needs and calculate the cost.
Leiberman said he did not know what the cost per
mile would be, nor what the cars will cost, but pledged
it would be lower than gasoline-operated cars.
That could be critical. Persuading Israeli car owners
to trade their gas guzzlers for short-range vehicles
could depend on whether the overall outlay is significantly
lower, including the cost and effort of installing
special plugs at their homes. There are also concerns
about pollution from spent batteries and added drain
on Israel's already sagging electricity grid.
Israel Corp., a local partner of Better Place, has
invested $200 million in the project, the company
said, to pay for the entire electric car infrastructure
If Project Better Place's plan works, Israel would
become the first country to have large numbers of
electric cars on its streets. Test runs are set for
The Danish energy company DONG Energy AS adopted
a Better Place model in march, hoping to have electric
cars running on power generated from wind turbines
Hawaii and California were among the first states
to sign onto the plan, the company said.