Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Will Israel Lead The Way In Using Electric Cars?

Israel is a country with a very high level of technological creativity and innovation, but once past the planning stage, its innovations have generally been developed by others.
Hillel Halkin

Hillel Halkin clarifies the choice facing Israel based on hi-tech entrepreneur Shai Agassi's proposal for making electric cars ubiquitous:
A small country running almost entirely on electric cars 10 or 15 years from now and serving as a model for the world? Or the pipedream of an overambitious businessman dragging his government into an expensive boondoggle that may make it the world's laughingstock?
According to Agassi, considering the size of Israel, there is not a problem of having to constantly stop to recharge an electric car's battery. Furthermore, even when you do have to stop:just remove the battery and replace it with a new one; the old one can be recharged for the next customer--this way there is no problem of a long wait.

Naturally, there are a number of objections as to why the idea is just not feasible. But Halkin's perspective on Israeli innovation itself is disheartening:
Pioneer Israeli breakthroughs in such areas as agriculture, water technology, desalinization, solar and geothermal heating, and so forth have often found their application and been mass-produced elsewhere because of the smallness of the Israeli market, the obstacles of Israeli bureaucracy, and the reluctance of Israel's governments to commit themselves to experiments with uncertain results.
Agassi's plan provides Israel with a tremendous opportunity.
It would be a shame if Israel were unable to take advantage of it and make it work.

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