I believe we are on an irreversible trend toward more freedom and democracy — but that could change.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Cradle of the Electric Car

Can Renault-Nissan and Project Better Place make a success of the low-pollution vehicles in a country with bigger problems than the environment?

The Israeli government, which hasn't gotten high marks for environmental protection, has become the new venture's biggest supporter. On Jan. 13 an unprecedented proposal was approved by the Cabinet to tax new cars based on their emissions levels. The biggest break would go to zero-emissions vehicles like the Better Place Renault and Nissan models planned for the Israeli market. They would be taxed at a 10% rate, compared with current rates of 79% on regular new cars and 30% on hybrids. The proposal recommends the tax on zero-emissions cars remain in place through 2014 and rise gradually to 30% in 2019, or be amended if their market share reaches 20%.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert justified the generous tax benefits saying zero-emissions cars would change the country's lifestyle and help Israel end its total dependency on imported energy.

Even though Israel is only a blip in the world's car market, Agassi's dream is to turn the country into a global trendsetter. He will have his work cut out for him, though—first in proving the electric car idea can work, then selling the idea to Israelis, who are just beginning to show an interest in the environment.

More on the Inventor Spot:

When a country can't buy oil from most of the Middle East, there are a few smart things to do: reduce consumption, buy from somewhere else, or, introduce the most revolutionary electric car infrastructure ever. For Israel, it's doing all three.

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I am a cantankerous man living and working in the Silicon Valley where reading books is an abomination that is virtually unheard of, frowned upon and may be detrimental to one's career. I avoid censure by never conceding that I ever read or owned a book in my life. If anyone accidentally glimpses my scant proficiency in any subject matter, I immediately accredit it to having glanced at DrudgeReport that day.

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