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Associated Press

Australia Zooms Ahead of US With Electric Car Plans

October 26, 2008 08:00 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
A U.S. company is teaming up with two Australian companies to create a network of charging stations for electric cars.

Australia Charges Toward Oil-Free Future

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An American company, Better Place, will put a network of battery charging stations in three Australian cities. Better Place has teamed with AGL, an Australian power company, and Macquarie Capital, a finance group, to implement the system by 2012.

"We are investing in Australia's economy and adding jobs while helping the country take a generational leap forward toward oil independence,” Shai Agassi, Better Place founder, told Agence France-Presse. Drivers will be able to select charging plans akin to those used for mobile phone services. The Australian government may help expedite the process by offering incentives to people willing to switch to electric cars.

Although Better Place is based in the United States, the company has generated greater interest abroad; Better Place has created similar infrastructures in Israel and Denmark. In the U.S., the state of Hawaii and the city of San Francisco have expressed interest, though cost seems to be a stumbling block. As Greentech Media noted, “the nationwide infrastructure needed for drivers to either pick up or charge a battery could be expensive, especially when there are very few electric vehicles on the road.”

Background: Electric cars around the globe

2008 spurred a revival of electric cars, such as the Tesla, especially in England. But one critic of the electric car pointed out that charging stations need to be implemented on a large scale.

General Motors hopes to revitalize its declining business and make an impression as an environmentally aware company with the release of the Chevy Volt, scheduled for 2010. The car will be entirely silent, and travel for 40 miles on battery power alone, a feat achieved by no other car to date. One of the impediments to the Volt may in fact be battery power, and critics are skeptical of whether GM will be able to meet the 2010 release date. With the recent Chrysler merger, the project may be delayed even further.

Related Topic: Australia switches to CFL bulbs

Australia proved itself to be a leader in energy conservation when it banned incandescent lightbulbs in 2007. The government announced that by 2009, all old light bulbs would be replaced by compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs in order to comply with new standards of energy efficiency. Planet Ark, an environmental group, worked with both the government and Phillips, a lighting company, to get the movement off the ground. In an interview with an Australian news station, Australia’s Federal Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull said he hoped other countries would follow Australia’s lead.

Reference Link: Better Place

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