Better Place starts Renault EV deliveries in Israel

Better Place, the Silicon Valley company founded by former high-tech executive and Israel native Shai Agassi in 2007, has delivered the first 100 electric cars to Israeli customers. After years of tests and trial programs, the deliveries mark a big step in the company's efforts to build out an electric-vehicle charging and battery-exchanging network throughout the country.

Better Place has delivered the Renault Fluence Z.E. EVs to Israel, Bloomberg News reported, citing an e-mail from Better Place Israel Chief Executive Officer Moshe Kaplinsky. The company will deliver more EVs to Israel and is planning on rolling out a similar network in Denmark. Better Place said last month that it would roll out the program with Eldan Group, Israel's largest rental car company, and would target private consumers and corporate fleets.

Better Place is looking to promote the concept – based on the cell phone model – that motorists should be able to lease batteries and battery charging time so that buying an electric vehicle does not require them to also purchase a battery pack that can cost as much as the car itself.

The company said late last year that it raised another $200 million in equity financing from companies such as General Electric and UBS AG and that it would use the funds to expand its electric-vehicle battery swapping network throughout Western Europe and other parts of the world. The funding brought the company's total to almost $800 million in equity financing and almost doubled the company's valuation to $2.25 billion since its previous round of equity funding in January 2010.

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