Forward Thinking

Can Israel's Electric Car Revolution Rev Up?

By Nathan Jeffay

  • Print
  • Share Share
getty images

Can the American man leading Israel’s solar power revolution work his magic on the country’s ailing electric car company?

Better Place launched with big, international plans, but went bankrupt earlier this year. Now, Yosef Abramowitz, an idealistic American businessman who first became acquainted with Israel on a Young Judea gap-year program and has had a growing connection with the Jewish state ever since, is in the hot-seat to resuscitate the company.

Abramowitz’s Sunrise Ltd, together with the Association for the Promotion of the Electric Car in Israel took control of all of the company’s assets in Israel, as well as its intellectual property in Switzerland subject to the Swiss seller. The deals for the two countries are worth 18 million shekels ($5 million) and 25 million shekels ($7 million) respectively — and possibly more by the time all monies are paid.

Abramowitz is a charismatic and talented operator, who has iron determination. The Forward interviewed him when he was just about to assemble his first solar power field for his Arava Power, the first company to sell electricity to Israel’s national grid. He recalled when we spoke to him how the idea for solar in Israel came to him in a flash of inspiration when he was visiting and found the early-morning sun so hot and thought to himself that the region should exploit it to its full potential. But it’s not his inspiration that has made him succeed — it’s his determination.

Abramowitz isn’t the first person to think of feeding solar energy in to Israel’s national grid, but he’s the only person who had the staying power to spend years bashing his head against what looked like the brick wall of state bureaucracy, and then continuing the crusade through endless paperwork to get his project off the ground.

Better Place’s big mistake is that it over-expanded. It didn’t get its model working well on a small scale before thinking, and spending, big. If Abramowitz reins in the operation, and runs it cautiously and with that quality which is at a premium in Israeli business — patience — he may just realize Better Place’s original vision of making electric cars mainstream.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: yosef abramowitz, israel, electric car, better place

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.