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Kennedy promos Israel’s electric car project

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Last night, environmental lawyer Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. used some air time on Larry King Live to give a shout-out to Project Better Place, an Israeli startup that hopes to make Israel the first country to wean itself off gasoline-powered cars.

Kennedy, who was debating Chevron Oil CEO David O’Reilly, might have overstated Better Place’s plan when he said that, “Within three years, they will be off of gasoline automobiles.” But the organization is working with Renault-Nissan to make Israel, by 2011, the first country to mass-market a fully capable electric car.

JTA’s Dina Kraft wrote about Project Better Place in May.

According to the president of Renault-Nissan, Carlos Ghosn, the car company has created an electric car that can compete with the gas-powered car in both performance and cost. His electric car can accelerate from 0-60 in less than 10 seconds, has a range of 100 miles in normal driving conditions and a range of 62 miles in extreme driving conditions of heavy city traffic with the air conditioner on.

And because the car will be mass produced, the price will be akin to that of a normal gas-powered car, he says. Over the car’s lifetime, the car actually will cost less to buy and operate than a gas-powered car, he has said.

Shai Agassi, the president of Project Better Place, has raised some $200 million in investor capital, including $100 million from Israel Corp., to build an electric grid throughout Israel where drivers can change batteries in less time than it takes to fill up a tank of gas. He envisions “converting our entire our country. We can build a virtual oil field; one that works better and leaves no footprint.”

The government of Israel already has agreed to give tax breaks to those who drive the cars.

Objectively, the Fundermentalist says this is an awesome, potentially earth-saving project.

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