Monday, February 4, 2008

EVs in Israel

Israel has announced that they intend to heavily subsidize electric vehicles (EVs) by reducing the taxes on them and installing a charging infrastructure.

I like EVs in general, but you have to wonder what Israel's intention is here. It is a grossly polluting country that has only recently stopped selling leaded gasoline and using the most basic of emissions control equipment on their refineries. There is a lot of low hanging fruit on their pollution control tree. So, why reach up to the highest branches of expensive solutions with minimal gains like this EV project?

And it is not as if they have the huge sources of cheap electricity that would make EVs a good economic decision or a way to reduce oil imports. Quite the opposite, in fact. They frequently have brownouts during the hotter parts of the summer because of insufficient electric generation. And 82% of the electricity they do produce uses oil as a fuel (yes, electric cars powered by electricity produced from oil are more efficient than diesel cars powered by oil, but not by much, especially if Israel has to build even more generation infrastructure to serve the load).

So, it clearly isn't really an effort to reduce pollution, reduce oil imports, or save money. So, why is Israel aggressively encouraging EVs?

I can only imagine it is a public relations effort. Israel does a lot of high-tech science and engineering. They intend to have an economy that is increasingly high-tech. Intel and Microsoft both have their biggest international R&D offices there. But Israel still has a public image dictated by their international and domestic relations with Arabs. So, maybe this EV effort is an attempt to draw positive attention to the country.

Today, being the world leader in electric vehicle infrastructure is pretty inexpensive and maybe the positive international attention created by it is worthwhile.

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