Based on the early numbers, Better Place is having a tough time meetings its initial sales target in its primary market of Israel of 4,000 electric vehicles in the first year, but the official word is that the slow start is meeting expectations. How slow? Since selling the first vehicles in July 2012, only 380 Renault Fluence Z.E. EVs had been sold (including cars to employees), with only 80 of those taking place in August.

Better Place customers lease EVs provided by company partner Renault SA, and pay a monthly fee to use its network of charge points and the battery swap stations. Customers benefit from vehicle prices that are $10,000 to $15,000 lower than other EVs, making the Better Place rides very competitive with gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles.

In early August, after many months of marketing trials, Better Place officially launched its sales campaign, "quiet" sales to car fleets, and road tests by company employees. Fleets are the target market, and the rising cost of petroleum is motivating companies to take the Better Place program seriously as they put their 2013 work plans in place, according to Better Place Israel CEO Moshe Kaplan. Kaplan is unconcerned about the slow start, and says it's in line with company expectations. "Companies are now approaching us as they are drawing up their work plans. Some of them want to close deals by October 31. We're talking about some of the largest car fleets," he said.

Kaplan says his company is pleased with the battery replacement station project. So far, 21 stations have been opened, making it possible for EV drivers to move freely from north to south. As for recharging stations, Better Place Israel has installed over 2,000 recharging points in 400 parking lots.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 9 Comments
      goodoldgorr
      • 18 Hours Ago
      They would have been better and paying less if they bought volts instead of the renault fluence. With their renault fluence they have to build a costly electrical recharging and battery swap stations almost everywhere. With a volt they can drive almost 60% to 70% of the miles on electricity, put some readily available gas sometime and recharge on 110 volts or 220 volts at home when they sleep. With their open on day only recharging stations they have to pay big salary that add-up on the electricity cost and more money to build an inventory of batteries and big tooling for performing battery swap. Their business model will never be adopted somewhere else. This is a madman catastrophic green wannabe project.
        Ryan
        • 18 Hours Ago
        @goodoldgorr
        The 'readily available gas' funds the countries next to them, which would like to see them wiped off the map. You would think bikes and EVs would be more popular there than in Amsterdam.
      • 18 Hours Ago
      Better Place customers pay for miles only. All related costs including electricity are refunded.
      Spec
      • 18 Hours Ago
      I don't think anyone in the ABG community will be surprised about this. The whole concept of getting locked into a single supplier for your electricity/miles stinks and raises red flags. No one in Israel wants to be the "freier" (sucker/patsy). But Israel should be a great place for EVs. They don't drive long distances because the country is small and they tend not to drive outside of it. I just don't think the Better Place business model makes people comfortable.
        Ryan
        • 18 Hours Ago
        @Spec
        Can you charge it at home? If not, then it is a problem.
          • 18 Hours Ago
          @Ryan
          you can not charge it from the mains with a regular socket. according to the Israeli law, in order to charg at home, you have to have a designated charging point at home (mode 3 - with communications to a charging mangement system) and a separate meter. such charging point can be installed by better place or by other suppliers, as long as it conform to regulations.
          Spec
          • 18 Hours Ago
          @Ryan
          If I understand correctly, yes, you can charge it at home. However, you have to pay a certain 'per mile' fee to Better place in addition to paying for your electricity.
          Spec
          • 18 Hours Ago
          @Ryan
          What? They require their own special charger? That is worse than I thought. I assumed the car itself kept track of such home-charging.
      Levine Levine
      • 18 Hours Ago
      Better Place is going out of business, says critic. Better Place reponse: Don't worry. Its all part of our business plan.