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Monday, 12 May 2008

Plug-and-go electric car generates buzz

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Monday, May 12th 2008

BY Matthew Kalman
SPECIAL TO THE NEWS


Renault electric car can run 125 miles before needing a recharge. It will debut in Israel in 2010.
Silverman/Getty
Renault electric car can run 125 miles before needing a recharge. It will debut in Israel in 2010.

TEL AVIV - Plug 'er in and rev 'er up.

Israeli motorists got a sneak preview of a world without gasoline Sunday when an entrepreneur showed off test models of a new electric car.

Whiz kid Shai Agassi predicted that the new vehicle - with just a plug where the gas tank should be - would take the tiny nation by storm when it hits the market in 2010 or so.

"It's one of the most fun cars I've ever driven in my life," Agassi said of his own plug-and-go car.

"Every time I go by a gas station," he added, " I feel like I cheated."

The new car, produced by Renault, is powered by a 125-pound battery and can run for about 125 miles before recharging.

That's okay for pint-sized Israel, which is just 260 miles long. Agassi's company plans to install a network of charging stations nationwide and swap dud batteries for fresh ones.

Tax breaks could mean the cars will cost less than a regular gas-gulping vehicle. And drivers will take pleasure in knowing they are helping to rid the world of pollution and dependence on oil.

In fact, most of the extra electricity to power the cars in Israel could come from solar panels in the Negev Desert.

For long drives, motorists will be able to replace the battery at about 150 swap stations expected to be built around the country.

The battery swap is expected to take the same amount of time as filling a tank of gas.

For shorter journeys, drivers will be able to recharge the batteries at home or at the office.

Drivers will pay a monthly subscription for the batteries, with different plans like those of cell phone users.

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