13 September 12 09:41–After four years of preparations, hundreds of millions of dollars raised, construction of a costly battery recharging and replacement network, and a global campaign to win hearts and minds, which has raised huge expectations in Israel and elsewhere, last month, Better Place Inc. entered the stage of having to prove itself and come up with the goods. In early August, it officially launched its sales campaign, after many months of marketing trials, “quiet” sales to car fleets, and road tests by company employees.
At the end of the first month, the figures showed that Better Place delivered 80 electric cars in August, and 380 cars in January-August, including company cars to its employees.
Better Place Israel CEO Moshe Kaplan (Kaplinsky), formerly deputy chief of staff of the IDF, is unconcerned by the slow start, saying that it is just the beginning. “We’ve put about 500 electric cars on the road, in line with our expectations. This number fits the capacity of our network to handle new deliveries. The rate of sales is excellent, and I am sure that we will meet our target of putting 4,000 cars on the road in our first 12 full months of full operations,” he told “Globes”.
“Globes”: How has the jump in the price of gasoline affected demand for and sales of the electric car?
Kaplan: “All the companies in Israel are now preparing their work plans for 2013, and they are seeking ways to cut costs. In the case of the gasoline price hike, which is a major routine expense for companies, they have only three ways to save money: switch their entire fleets to small cars; increase the fuel allowance for employees; or switch their fleets to electric cars, and fix the usage cost at a preset level, which will save thousands of shekels over the three-year contract.
“Companies are now approaching us as they are drawing up their work plans. Some of them want to close deals by October 31. We’re talking about some of the largest car fleets. These are not feelers: these fleets checked out and tested the electric cars. At least three companies asked for quick delivery of 100 cars this year. The economic situation is only accelerating the process.”
Kaplan says that the battery replacement stations project is at an advanced stage, and that more than NIS 1 billion has already been invested in deploying the infrastructure. “We have 21 stations open, which make it possible to drive freely from north to south,” he says. “We did all of this from the ground up in four and a half years, including development of the technology, which is an unprecedented achievement in my opinion. We’re opening stations at a rate of three a week. Our recharging posts are found in 400 parking lots with over 2,000 recharging points.”…Read More>>