Renault Fluence ZE electric cars in Israel, provided by Better Place [photo: Better Place]Enlarge Photo
Unlike the U.S., Israel's power grid and generating capacity are stretched and severe disruptions to the supply of natural gas from Egypt are presently causing problems.
Policy makers believe "priority should be given to overnight charging," whereas "random charging during the day [will] require the construction of additional power stations."
The Ministry of National Infrastructure policy includes the following general principle:
1. Stringent safety requirements and minimization of electrocution risks and other harm to humans and the environment will be ensured.
In covering Better Place, the Israeli press has focused largely on the safety issues of unrestrained cables on streets and the idea that using domestic power sockets is risky.
By and large, local reporters have downplayed calls for competition and the mandate for smart charging to protect the grid--perhaps opting to avoid having to explain this complex subject.
Two more principles:
4. EV owners may enter into a contract with a charging supplier to manage the charging of their electric vehicles, but will not be obligated to do so.
12. Fair competition in the EV industry shall be maintained.
It also says the "charging supplier shall not constrain its customers from obtaining charging services from...devices not owned or managed by it," which appears to require roaming among charging services.
The policy requires easy, free cancellation terms for customers who want to end subscriptions, and bans multi-year contracts like those for mobile phones. Suppliers must also serve customers from other networks.
So, while the Israeli government policy hits all the right notes for an open market in electric cars and their charging services, the question remains: Will Better Place really face competition either in cars or charging services?
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.