The electric-car infrastructure company Better Place has unveiled its first showroom in Israel, in preparation for the sale of electric cars to retail customers.
At its demonstration center near Glilot Junction north of Tel Aviv, Better Place will show three models of the Renault Fluence ZE, outfitted with Better Place's battery and electric engine instead of a conventional fuel tank and internal combustion engine.
A cutaway model of an electric car will also be on display.
Brochures available in the showroom urge potential customers to buy an electric car because it's "worthwhile economically." But the various subscription plans do not offer much savings over hybrid cars or even the more thrifty models of traditional gasoline-fueled vehicles.
For example, for someone who drives more than 20,000 kilometers a year, an electric car will save only NIS 113 a month compared with a family-size sedan with a gas engine that gets 10 kilometers a liter. And a hybrid car that gets 14 kilometers per liter is a better deal than an electric car.
But if customers drive enough kilometers per year, they will save by using an electric car compared with a standard family-size gas car, although better-model family-size gas cars are thriftier than an electric car.
Companies with car fleets are the main market for the electric car; these firms will pay a lower rate than private consumers.
Better Place is offering two models of the Renault Fluence: the more basic Expression, which costs NIS 123,000, and the upgraded Dynamic, which costs NIS 130,000.
Better Place says the car can travel 185 kilometers between charges. According to its catalog, "when battery technology improves, Better Place will be the first to stock up on these batteries."
In presentations to investors, Better Place said it needs 30,000 customers to make back its initial infrastructure investment in Israel. The company expects to make NIS 11,000 for every car leased for a year. By the end of the decade, it expects 30,000 cars to be sold annually.
The Ofer family has the biggest stake in Better Place via the Ofer group with 8 percent and the Israel Corporation with 30 percent. Shai Agassi, the company's founder and chief executive, has 14 percent, investment bank Morgan Stanley has 11 percent and bank HSBC 10 percent.