Israel could be the first country with a nationwide electric car network, thanks to Better Place. A battery swapping station just opened outside Tel Aviv.
Gil Cohen Magen /Reuters/File
Kiryat Ekron, Israel
The future of transportation may lie in what looks like a modernist car wash.
In Israel in March, software entrepreneur Shai Agassi unveiled what could be the start of the world's first nationwide electric-car battery swapping station network. A white-and-blue Renault Fluence ZE sedan silently pulled into a drive-through lane. The floor beneath opened as a robot removed the car's 550-pound battery and swapped in a new one. About three minutes later, the car rolled away, ready for 100 miles of emissions-free driving.
This new station is part of a $175 million system that Mr. Agassi claims will end the era of the internal combustion engine, all at the cost of what Israelis spend on seven days of fuel.
"When Israel proves it can get off its use of gasoline at the cost of one week of gas, I don't know of one country that will say, 'let's stay on gas for another week,' " says Agassi, the Israeli-American founder and chief executive officer of Better Place in Palo Alto, Calif.
Under Agassi's plan, Fluence ZE owners will pay an initial fee for a home charging outlet and monthly payments for use of public charging spots and battery swapping stations across the country.
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