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USA: Opinion: Pave the way for electric vehicles on N.J. roads

Last week, Gov. Christie spent three days visiting Israel along with a New Jersey delegation promoting economic and trade relationships between Israel and the state of New Jersey.

One of Gov. Christie’s stops was at A Better Place, a venture-backed American-Israeli company based in Palo Alto, Calif., that develops and sells transportation infrastructure for electric vehicles.

In 2008, Israel became the first country to embrace the Better Place model, which is creating a network of battery swap stations throughout the country.

Those who contract with A Better Place don’t buy the expensive batteries for their cars but lease them along with all the electricity they will ever need. When the car batteries run low, they can be swapped out at no charge at any one of approximately 50 changing stations strategically located in Israel.

Changing stations resemble car washes, and in about four minutes, the automatic system swaps the depleted battery for a full one and recharges the old battery overnight to be used in another vehicle. Each fully charged battery has about a 100-mile range, so that the 150-mile trip from Tel Aviv to the Galilee requires only one quick battery swap along the way.

Of course, consumers can arrange with A Better Place to install a charging point at their home or office so that they can charge the battery themselves.

Electricity for the charging is routed through a separate circuit and is paid for by A Better Place. At present, more than 1,000 charging stations have either been installed or are planned throughout Israel.

Already, 400 corporations in Israel, representing 80,000 vehicles, have signed on with A Better Place to switch their fleets to electric cars. By 2016, it is projected that half of all cars in Israel will be electric.

To date, Denmark, Australia, California, Hawaii and Ontario have all contracted with A Better Place to create charging networks of their own, and the company is in discussions with additional countries, carmakers and potential partners around the world.
What’s good for Israel and other countries can be equally good for New Jersey as we search for alternatives to the skyrocketing price of imported oil.
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