• Jul 18th 2012 at 2:05PM
  • 21
Better Place waited until its fleet of Renault Fluence plug-in vehicles was just about officially, commercially operational in Israel before letting customers know that the cost to drive the vehicles will be less than expected. Better Place's official launch, which happened this past weekend, means that the cars are now available to both fleets and private individuals. Better Place is also offering consumers a new lower-price plan that is "a simpler and better deal," writes Haaretz, because the previous rate was causing problems for the company to break into the market.

Better Place is using traditional media advertisements to reach out to people – with the slogan, "It's not for everybody" – but it's the simpler plan that is getting the positive reviews. Remember, aside from battery swaps, Better Place's idea is to make EV driving more affordable by "selling miles" (like cell phone minutes). Previously, the lowest-cost plan was for 20,000 kilometers (12,427 miles) per year, and you needed to sign up for four years. The new cheapest plans are month-to-month leases (of a sort) that start at just 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) a month. Even better, those are "roll-over" miles, so you can drive more next month if you don't do as many this month. The cost is 65 agorot per kilometer (around 16 cents per km). Drivers who expect to spend more time in their cars can pay just 55 agorot per kilometer (about 14 cents) but they need to pay some money up front (either enough for 40,000 kilometers over three years or 50,000 kilometers over four years).

Better Place's first customer deliveries happened in January after years of testing and delays, which Better Place blamed mostly on trouble with building permits. BP's marketing and strategy manager, Ori Lahav, told the Jerusalem Post, that "Israeli bureaucracy really slowed us down." Currently, there are 250 cars and 10 battery stations in operation in Israel, and many more should be online soon. We have an in-depth look at Better Place's plans here.


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 21 Comments
      goodoldgorr
      • 3 Years Ago
      That might cost more to drive then gasoline if you factor-in subsidies given to them. They should buy some volts and forget the rest.
        Peter
        • 3 Years Ago
        @goodoldgorr
        I should point out that the price of gas in Israel, the last time I visited, was high, and it has been raised since to $8 NIS/l (~ $2/l or $8/ US gallon). At that price (plus the idea that Arabs make money on the imported oil) makes this offering palatable. ICE at 7.5l/100km ie 30mpg at $2/l = $0.15 per km
          Peter
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Peter
          PS The country is small (40 miles or so wide) so a Volt (or Amprea) would also make lots of sense, although they are not offered in that country.
          Iam FFinder
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Peter
          In Israel: The Renault Fluence ZE costs 122,900 shekels ($32,500) The Chevrolet Volt costs 200,000 shekels ($52,890) The Prius Plug-in costs 173,000 shekels ($45,750) So the Renault Fluence ZE is 50,100 shekels ($13,250) cheaper than the Prius Plug-in.. Forget the volt.. Source: FLUENCE ZE electric family car most cost-effective. PDF: http://repocorp.betterplace.com/Lists/MediaServer_Documents/electric%5B1%5D.pdf Youtube Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZK-24vn-jxE ff
          Iam FFinder
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Peter
          In Israel: The Renault Fluence ZE costs 122,900 shekels ($32,500) The Chevrolet Volt costs 200,000 shekels ($52,890) The Prius Plug-in costs 173,000 shekels ($45,750) So the Renault Fluence ZE is 50,100 shekels ($13,250) cheaper than the Prius Plug-in.. Forget the volt.. Source: FLUENCE ZE electric family car most cost-effective. PDF: http://repocorp.betterplace.com/Lists/MediaServer_Documents/electric%5B1%5D.pdf Youtube Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZK-24vn-jxE ff
      • 3 Years Ago
      In my country there are similar gas prices (~8$/gal). The Prius is cheaper if you only take the fuel price but one could argue that the Fluence will need much less maintenance and is cleaner than the Prius (direct emissions only).
      Dave
      • 3 Years Ago
      The cost is 65 agorot per kilometer (around 16 cents per km). 16 cents per km / 0.621371 miles per km = 25.75 cents per mile. As long as gas costs less than $12.87 per gallon, a 50 mpg prius is cheaper per mile.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Dave
        Dave, it is a good comparison, as customers do often compare the two. However, it is important to include a couple more data points: 1. The Fluence ZE is cheaper by about 30,000NIS ($7500) to buy. That difference would allow you to buy a Fluence ZE + 54,500 km of Better Place service (fuel + roadside and customer care) 2. The insurance & maintenance costs are cheaper for the Fluence ZE. For example insurance is about 1,000NIS less per year.
        JakeY
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Dave
        Gas prices are about $8/gallon in Israel. So this plan's equivalent to a 31 mpg car, which is pretty decent. The second plan at 55 agorot is equivalent to 37 mpg. Obviously they will not try to price so operating cost is like a Prius (given a Prius costs more than a base Fluence), but rather slightly better than an average car. The plan includes installation of your private charge spot and 24hr roadside assistance. http://www.betterplace.com/the-company-pressroom-pressreleases-detail/index/id/Better%20Place%20introduces%20the%20first%20mass%20market The Fluence costs 121,200 NIS ($30,423) after a tax break. http://www.hybridcars.com/news/better-place-updates-israeli-pricing-plans-allay-consumer-resistance-48463.html Prius costs 152,000 NIS ($38,154). http://priuschat.com/threads/hypothesis-on-prius-price-need-input-from-all-countries.84630/ So the Prius means paying an $7731 premium or 79292 miles (7-8 years) of driving to pay back that difference.
          Dave
          • 3 Years Ago
          @JakeY
          Thank you. I was wondering how much a Prius cost vs. a Fluence. How much is the tax break? (And its also worth noting that, most probably, the majority of that $8/gallon is also tax, not the cost of gasoline)
      Actionable Mango
      • 3 Years Ago
      That's a sharp looking car. Why aren't there more European brands in the USA? Aren't we one of the largest car markets in the world?
      PeterScott
      • 3 Years Ago
      I don't believe battery swapping makes sense as a viable business. You need to build an infrastructure, support staffing and overhead, and and to maintain an inventory that is depreciating fast and in danger of technical obsolesce, and you need to make a profit on top of that. To make that profit, it means you have to pass on the costs of the infrastructure/deprecation/overhead/profit all onto the consumer. This takes EVs which are already not TCO cost competetive with gas vehicles, and makes the economics worse and puts the consumer in a perpetual dependence relationship. The only way the economics can work for the consumer is if the battery swapping business is subsidized (likely by government). The moment the subsidy is removed this business becomes unsustainable. I must credit Agassi with being quite the salesman to convince investors/governments to back this house of cards.
      Larz Larzen
      • 3 Years Ago
      I'm just happy that innovative people are trying to find solutions for difficult problems. They may come at it from different angles and have varying success, but we can all grow and learn from their effort and sacrifices. At least they have a plan to get off petroleum and they are doing their best to implement it. It may, or may not be the best plan, but it is a valiant attempt. I hope they succeed.
      Dan Sturges
      • 3 Years Ago
      And are they still only allowing BP customers to charge at utilities' charge points??
        JakeY
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Dan Sturges
        Yes. I don't see why not since it still counts as a "mile" or "km" no matter where you charge.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Dan Sturges
        Dan, if you are asking if non Better Place customers can charge at Better Place owned/operated charge spots, the answer is absolutely yes.
      Dan Frederiksen
      • 3 Years Ago
      it's not a concept that will last but they might live a few years
      Spec
      • 3 Years Ago
      His grand plan is collapsing. People just don't want to be trapped with a single-source provider.
      Iam FFinder
      • 3 Years Ago
      Here's a picture of the 10 Battery Switch Stations that went live in Israel: http://www.israellycool.com/2012/07/13/shai-agassi-did-what-he-said-he-would/ ff
        Marcopolo
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Iam FFinder
        @ Iam FFinder. This is the fifth nom-de-plume you have post under on behalf of Better Place. It's okay to be in the employ of someone, even as a 'community manager' , but it's ethical to declare your interest.
    • Load More Comments