Better Place Electric Renault Fluence ZE In Israel: 1st Week Page 2

Follow Brian

2012 Renault Fluence ZE electric car, powered by Better Place in Israel [photo: Brian of London]

2012 Renault Fluence ZE electric car, powered by Better Place in Israel [photo: Brian of London]

Enlarge Photo

Driving on Israel's roads, the car is firm and stable. At high speeds, the center of gravity feels higher than ideal--I can imagine that in a sharp maneuver at speed, the tail could break loose. (I've driven and raced rear-wheel drive sports cars, so I know that feeling.)

The acceleration away from stoplights astonishes me, and other drivers too. It's ridiculously easy to activate the traction control and, in fact, with heavy-footed driving  it's not easy to pull away without at least a little wheel spin.

I prepaid Better Place (which covers all my electricity and battery switches) for a subscription that covers up to 50,000 miles (80,000 km) over four years.

That means it doesn't matter if I get home with a 20-percent charge or any other level. As long as I know I have a reasonable margin to reach my destination, I can drive as fast as road conditions and the law allow.

Until all 40 Better Place switch stations are open, I'm receiving a refund of half my monthly subscription fee. (The company says that more than 15,000 switches have been performed in the few stations it has open thus far.)

Right now, that makes driving a real bargain--but if I wanted to drive all the way to Eilat (350 miles to the south), there would be no way I could reach it.

By the end of the summer, I hope to be able to report on that trip.

Brian Thomas ("Brian of London") emigrated from the U.K. to Israel in 2009. He now drives a Renault Fluence ZE sold through Better Place--joining David Rose and other early Better Place customers. He owns and operates his own import company in Israel with more than 15 staff. Thomas regularly blogs at Israellycool about life in Israel, technology and business topics.


Follow GreenCarReports on Facebook and Twitter.

Follow Us

Comments (13)
  1. Brian, you said in the article that you prepaid your subscription up to 50,000 miles. What did that add to your total cost when you picked up your car? And if you don't mind me asking what was the final cost with the base price, additional options, and the 4 year prepaid subscription?

  2. I will do an article next on the exact price of the vehicle with a comparison to other new cars in Israel.

    Just as a teaser: I walked into a Chevy dealer this week: a brand new Chevy Malibu 2.4l with less equipment (i.e. no integrated sat nav and an inferior media system) costs almost exactly what I paid for my car INCLUDING four years of fuel.

    That's four years of fuel at just shy of $8 per gallon (today's price) for free. Can you see the attraction?

  3. Can you buy the car and not subscribe?

  4. No.

    Car is sold like a Chinese toy: batteries not included.

    See this for more details:

  5. That's one thing I don't like, when you can buy something but your stuck with a company telling you what your allowed to do with it. I want to buy or finance a car and be able to charge it where ever I want and have the ability to choose not to subscribe if I don't want to. I'm also not a fan of billing people to death, paying for a charge when your not at home is a simple purchase. But what will Better Place do if you stop paying, come and take the battery?

  6. I've already paid 100% of the car and 4 years subscription up front. I now owe the bank. If I stop paying them (either component) they'll take the car.

    BTW I can cancel with 90 days notice or 0 days if I find someone to take over the subscription and buy my car from me. Even though I've paid for 4 years, I'm not held to any contract. I can also increase my KMs at any time (though not decrease because I'm at the lowest level).

  7. @CDspeed there are a number of things you need to take into consideration. Better Place is the first EV infrastructure company to enter the Israeli market. The "Catholic Wedding" with them might very well change when additional players enter the game. Secondly, the Israeli government has regulated that EVs can only be charged from managed charging stations, to prevent overloading the country's electric grid. We are not billed to death, only once actually, it's fire and forget for 4 years. Go ahead take the battery, you can pay Better Place the extra $12K and where exactly will you charge it as no charging infrastructure exists in the country other than that of Better Place's system.

  8. @ David, I didn't mean that Better Place bills you to death I meat that continuing to come up with mandatory pay services in and world that is already in debt will only ad to some households pile of bills. As for Israel I've never been and admittedly don't know how things work there, so I've only ever commented on Better Place as a charging solution in a global sense. Better Place may work best in smaller countries, so it may be the best solution for Israel, but that's something I don't have any knowledge of, so my comments don't involve Israel because I feel I have no right to say anything about Israel.

  9. Also, perhaps, for context, how much your Civic would cost in Israel.

  10. A new Civic 5 door like mine is a similar price to the Chevy but with a smaller engine. I'd have a guess (without driving that Chevy 2.4) that the 1.8l Honda would be nicer to drive though! Honda is a much more desirable brand in Israel than Chevy (or Renault for that matter).

    One distinct problem is that the Renault importer has ONLY brought poor spec models for the corporate lease market for years so it has a downmarket image in Israel. Nothing I can do about that, people keep saying to me "but it's just a Renault!" while I know it drives more like a Lexus.

  11. Excellent reporting. It is great to hear about these vehicles from someone that lives with them day to day.

  12. But, whats about the most important thing, the Better Place rates, and the battery leasing.

  13. For my next piece I'll do a full run down on the economics as a customer including a primer in the new car market in Israel.

Commenting is closed for old articles.

Get FREE Dealer Quotes

From dealers near you

Find Green Cars


© 2015 Green Car Reports. All Rights Reserved. Green Car Reports is published by High Gear Media. Send us feedback. Stock photography by izmo, Inc.