Some Israelis have hit on a neat asymmetric warfare stratagem to use their nation’s weaknesses to neutralize its enemies.
JERUSALEM — Israel, tiny and bereft of oil, has decided to embrace the electric car.
On Monday, the Israeli government will announce its support for a broad effort to promote the use of electric cars, embracing a joint venture between an American-Israeli entrepreneur and Renault and its partner, Nissan Motor Company.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, with the active support of President Shimon Peres, intends to make Israel a laboratory to test the practicality of an environmentally clean electric car. The state will offer tax incentives to purchasers, and the new company, with a $200 million investment to start, will begin construction of facilities to recharge the cars and replace empty batteries quickly.
The idea, said Shai Agassi, 39, the software entrepreneur behind the new company, is to sell electric car transportation on the model of the cellphone. Purchasers get subsidized hardware — the car — and pay a monthly fee for expected mileage, like minutes on a cellphone plan, eliminating concerns about the fluctuating price of gasoline…
Israel, where the round-trip commute between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem is only 75 miles, is considered a good place to test the idea, which Mr. Agassi, Renault and Nissan hope to copy in small countries like Denmark and crowded cities like London, Paris, Singapore and New York. London, which has a congestion area tax for cars, lets electric cars enter downtown and park free.
Shimon Peres is a dreamer:
Mr. Peres…has in the past embraced and helped to develop some successful notions — like Israel’s nuclear weapons program. He is a strong believer in Israel’s mission to better the world, he says, and not simply sell arms to it…
“Oil is becoming the greatest problem of our time,” Mr. Peres said in an interview in his office. Not only does it pollute, but “it also supports terror and violence from Venezuela to Iran.”
“Israel can’t become a major industrial country, but it can become a daring world laboratory and a pilot plant for new ideas, like the electric car,” he said.
Mr. Peres sees this project as part of his “green vision” for Israel, arguing that what the nation may lose in tax revenue it will save in oil. He also supports a larger investment in solar power, saying that “the Saudis don’t control the sun.”
Currently Israel uses imported coal and oil for power generation, so a model that uses solar and electric cars will reduce its vulnerability and transform its trade balance. Those of us without reliable solar can use nuclear power.
This offers of a quick way for the poor people of the world to get mobile, while hanging the bad guys out to dry.
If anyone can get this to work, the Israelis can, and there’s nothing the Saudis can do to stop them.
What’s not to like?