Project Better Place shows off electric car bound for Israel

The joint venture between the Silicon Valley startup Project Better Place and Renault-Nissan, showed off its prototype all electric Renault sedan in Tel Aviv on Saturday. The project, which has the endorsement of Israel’s government, hopes to have Israel become the first country in the world to have large numbers of electric cars. Kickoff is planned for 2010.

The project has a business model similar to cell phones – car owners will pay a monthly subscription fee for the batteries, and will be able to recharge their batteries either at home or the office or at recharging grid stations scheduled to be built across Israel beginning in 2009.

While the car currently has a limited range, the project backers say that it is ideally suited to a smaller country like Israel – daily commutes and distances between most places in Israel make the car’s range not an issue. For longer drives, owners will be able to swap out the battery at about 150 swap stations that will be built around the country. The swap will take about the same time as it takes to fill up your gas tank. Otherwise, car owners will just be able to charge their batteries at home, at the office, or at charging stations.

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