With a slogan “It’s not for everybody,” echoing on televisions, newspapers and Internet, Better Place Israel announced the commercial launch of its Renault Fluence electric vehicles on Sunday.
This official launch was a bit surprise as it comes almost six months after its first Electric Vehicle (EVs) hit the road in January. The company officials’ including the CEO is blaming ‘Israeli bureaucracy’ for the delays. Marketing and strategy manager Ori Lahav told The Jerusalem Post prior to Sunday’s launch “What delayed us a little were the battery stations, the whole subject of Form 4 [building applications]. Israeli bureaucracy really slowed us down”, “The fact is we have already delivered cars to customers. They have made do without a nationwide spread of battery stations, [but] charging points, roadside assistance, everything works. Now the battery stations are our focus, and that is where we are putting most of our efforts.”
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Most of the delivered cars numbering around 250 are currently on the road are owned by Better Place employees, leasing companies, and a number of private individuals. As per the marketing manager, ten battery stations are currently in operation and Thirty eight will be in operation by September making it possible to drive the entire length of the country.
To ramp up the sales, Better Place also announced two new payment methods – pay as you go and pay and drive replacing earlier kilometer packages at variable prices. This was in reply to feedbacks received over the limitations of the original monthly subscription format, which started at minimum 20,000 kilometers per year. The pay as you go plan will charge customers NIS 0.65 per kilometer with a minimum of 1,000 kilometers per month along with the facility of making up next month in case they don’t meet the minimum 1000 kilometers. For example, a customer drives 800 kilometers in March will be able to drive 1200 kilometers next month without exceeding the minimum charge. Other payment method, pay and drive will charge customers NIS 0.55 per kilometer with up front for 40,000 kilometers over a three-year period or at least 50,000 kilometers over a four-year period.
Better Place and Union Bank of Israel (TLV:UNON) are offering a joint financing plan with a monthly fee and up to 48 monthly installments for customers who plan to choose this option. Better place asserts that its Renault Fluence ZE electric car is superior in terms of cost, emissions, silent motors and lack of gasoline dependence and comes with a manufacturer’s warranty for four years or 120,000 kilometers. Better Place is confident of selling 4000 cars in its first full year of operations in Israel.