Early Better Place Customer On Israel Electric-Car Experience Page 2

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Renault Fluence ZE electric car belonging to Better Place user David Rose [photo: David Rose]

Renault Fluence ZE electric car belonging to Better Place user David Rose [photo: David Rose]

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Better Place has not yet opened its network of battery-switch stations to its customers. The firm date for opening all 40 stations is June, and the company says it has advised customers who take early delivery of their cars of this limitation.

The switch stations are now in advanced testing; I've previously been through one during tests.

Aside from the switch stations, customer subscription plans give them unlimited use of the public charging stations that Better Place is already operating in malls and various locations across Israel. Those spots are all relatively slow Level 2 stations, not DC quick-charge stations.

Until the network of switch stations is fully operating, however, Rose can't consider driving 110 miles to Tel Aviv without having to stop at a shopping mall for a few hours along the way.

He's had one problem with his home charging station. On his way back from a trip, Better Place called to say the company wanted to send a technician for a routine inspection of his home charge point. He set a time for the following morning.

When he returned home, Rose found one side of his ground-mounted dual charging post had stopped working. He used the other side, but that failed overnight. Fortunately the inspection visit the next morning returned it to operation.

Rose says he's enjoying the car tremendously: "I get a real kick out of the turn-on beep, and then silence".

He says the car attracts plenty of attention at traffic lights, "especially from children sitting in the back seats of other cars".

He feels duty-bound to pull away quickly to show off the electric car's acceleration, he says, which surprises many.

He's eagerly waiting for battery switch stations to come on line and open up the whole of Israel for him, traveling on nothing but electrons.

Brian Thomas ("Brian of London") emigrated from the U.K. to Israel in 2009. He has placed an order for and will soon own a Renault Fluence ZE sold through Better Place. He owns and operates his own import company in Israel with more than 15 staff. He regularly blogs at Israellycool about life in Israel, technology and business topics.

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