A US firm, Better Place, has unveiled plans to build a huge one-billion-dollar (667 million US) charging network to power electric cars in Australia as it seeks cleaner and cheaper options to petrol.
The company has built plug-in stations for electric vehicles in Israel and Denmark, has joined forces with Australian power company AGL and finance group Macquarie Capital to create an Australian network.
Under the agreement, Macquarie will raise one billion dollars to build electric-vehicle networks in the country’s largest cities — Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane — while AGL will power the system with renewable energy.
“We call it a ubiquitous charging network across the cities,” said Better Place chief executive and founder Shai Agassi in Melbourne.
“We are investing in Australia’s economy and adding jobs while helping the country take a generational leap forward toward oil independence,” he said.
Under the plan, the three cities will each have a network of between 200,000 and 250,000 charge stations by 2012 where drivers can plug in and power up their electric cars.
The points would probably be at homes and businesses, car parks and shopping centres, he said.
In addition, 150 switch stations will be built in each city and on major freeways, where electric batteries can be automatically replaced in drive-in stations similar to a car wash.
Under the scheme, which is likely to strike a green chord in Australia where the price of petrol is also notoriously high, drivers will pay to recharge their cars through various power supply agreements similar to mobile phone contracts.
Drivers can pick a plan and rate that best reflects their car use.
Agassi stressed that the deal was crucial as people would only buy electric vehicles if they could recharge them easily.