Based on the early numbers, Better Place is having a tough time meetings its initial sales target in its primary market of Israel of 4,000 electric vehicles in the first year, but the official word is that the slow start is meeting expectations. How slow? Since selling the first vehicles in July 2012, only 380 Renault Fluence Z.E. EVs had been sold (including cars to employees), with only 80 of those taking place in August.
Better Place customers lease EVs provided by company partner Renault SA, and pay a monthly fee to use its network of charge points and the battery swap stations. Customers benefit from vehicle prices that are $10,000 to $15,000 lower than other EVs, making the Better Place rides very competitive with gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles.
In early August, after many months of marketing trials, Better Place officially launched its sales campaign, "quiet" sales to car fleets, and road tests by company employees. Fleets are the target market, and the rising cost of petroleum is motivating companies to take the Better Place program seriously as they put their 2013 work plans in place, according to Better Place Israel CEO Moshe Kaplan. Kaplan is unconcerned about the slow start, and says it's in line with company expectations. "Companies are now approaching us as they are drawing up their work plans. Some of them want to close deals by October 31. We're talking about some of the largest car fleets," he said.
Kaplan says his company is pleased with the battery replacement station project. So far, 21 stations have been opened, making it possible for EV drivers to move freely from north to south. As for recharging stations, Better Place Israel has installed over 2,000 recharging points in 400 parking lots.