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Don’t worry, I’ll still remain here at Israellycool, even though I’ve now been published in a high f’lutin’ site like PJ Media. I was writing about the Better Place electric car that I’ve written about a couple of times here at Israellycool, here and here.
On a winter day of pounding rain, quite uncharacteristic for Israel, a convoy of 80 completely electric, battery-powered cars drove from Rosh Ha’ayin on Israel’s eastern border through Tel Aviv. On the outside, the autos are perfectly normal Renault sedans built in Turkey. Yet they don’t require a drop of gasoline pumped by countries that hate the Jewish state.
The cars run on an air-cooled 230 kilogram (500 pound) lithium ion battery, an electric motor, and a sophisticated electronic control system. Where Israeli ingenuity comes in: these “Better Place” cars differ from electric vehicles like the Chevy Volt or Nissan Leaf — a depleted battery can be swapped for a full one in about four minutes. The Renault ZE is also larger than the Nissan or the Chevy, sized more like a Honda Accord — a real, practical family car.
Personally, I reject the anthropogenic global warming theory. Nevertheless, I’m interested in driving an electric car for two reasons. First: Western dependence on largely Middle East-produced oil is insecure in strategic terms, and helps fuel the forces of jihad and radicalism. Second: if a truly free market can produce a more inexpensive, efficient alternative to petroleum-run transport that benefits the consumer, it makes sense to use it. The price of gasoline is steadily rising, and recall that it is far more expensive in Europe and Israel than in North America.
Last week, I test drove one of these electric cars, convinced that it would have all the driver appeal of a trip across Los Angeles during rush hour. It came as a complete revelation to me when the Renault Better Place accelerated like a rocket and kept going. I was so impressed that I followed up my brief drive at Better Place’s demonstration site in Tel Aviv with a much longer test drive on Israeli roads. I’ve driven the gasoline version of the Renault — it is underpowered and doesn’t handle well. This electric version is much quicker, as silent as a Mercedes, and super-smooth, especially since there are no gear changes. It feels like a 2.5 liter V6 engine in a car often sold with a 1.8 liter four-cylinder one.