Everything you need to know – the locations of switch stations and charging posts, the number of motorists already there, your own distance from each – is visible on a dashboard GPS screen. Employees have been testing the system for weeks, seeing, for instance, how much juice it takes to drive from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem with a car full of fat people, a carload of skinny people or just a car. By July, Better Place expects to begin taking individual orders for the Turkish-made Renault Fluence Z.E. (for Zero Emission), a four-door sedan that looks like any other car. Ordinary Israelis could be driving them as early as November. (Read about the history of green energy.)

“It’s going to depend on the price – of the car, and any charge for the battery, or charging the battery,” says Dror Aikar, a Hyundai owner waiting for a tour of the Better Place showroom that 75,000 people have already passed through. Within sight of the beach north of Tel Aviv, it was built on the ruins of an oil-tank farm. Aikar wants to help the environment, he says. “But you can’t do it if you don’t have the money to do it.”