Back in January I was treated to the complete Better Place Visitor Centre experience. I wrote about that at the time. A couple of months ago, mere days before I received my car, Peter Dushenski of the site Car Envy in Canada came to visit.
He’s posted a very nice two part write up of his experience:
It’s different, yet simple. But as we know, in a global and largely capitalist marketplace, an idea alone is insufficient. This revolutionary idea is no better than the skipped sermon basketballs if it isn’t cost effective, easy-to-use, and marketed well. We aren’t going to make the switch to an electric car unless we’re convinced that it’ll be better than what we’re already using, all while remaining essentially familiar. No amount of morally superior preaching will be enough to convert us, even if that preaching is coming from the Holy Land. It just has to work right out of the box.
As with every car ownership experience, the real pitch begins with the dealership. We visited the Better Place’s dealership-that-isn’t, their “Experience Center”, to find out if they could sell my brother, my parents, my fiancée, and yours truly on the very un-Albertan notion of electric motoring.
Driving up to the cylindrical two-story Experience Center north of Tel Aviv, bordering a lifeless ocean of unsold French cars, we parked our Mazda5 next to a pair of electronic Renault Fluence ZEs. At a normal car dealership, we would’ve waltzed in unannounced only to be molested by a pimply salesman with an ill-fitting suit. Since this was the “Experience Center”, however, the Better Place website encouraged us to book a tour in advance despite not having any clue as to what such a tour might entail.
Also Joe Yudin of @IsraelTourGuide writes in the Jerusalem Post how, after seeing one of Better Place’s cars on the road, he asked a client on a tour of Israel if they’d like to know more about Better Place. They too went to the visitor centre:
The ones that I see are usually white with blue stenciling adorning the doors of the car, announcing “100% electric”. I point it out to the family of tourists that I am driving around in my diesel-guzzling Mercedes van.
I say, “this is the future of the automotive industry.” The family’s patriarch disagrees.
“Electric?” he says, “I’ll never buy an electric car.”
“Why not?” I reply.
“Many reasons” he states, “first and foremost the cars have no ‘umph.’ Secondly, the driving range is terrible and you can only drive a few miles before you have to recharge for 12 straight hours. It’s just not practical.”
“You know what, we are close to the Better Place visitor’s center would you like to drive one of the cars around their track? It’s free. All you need to do is show a valid driver’s license from anywhere in the world.”
“I’m game” he said.