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by Matt Brogan

Better Place group today announced agreements with AGL Energy and financial advisor Macquarie Capital are in place to help raise the $1 billion (AUD) needed to begin deploying an electric vehicle (EV) network powered by renewable energy.

The Better Place model for sustainable mobility will help Australia move closer to oil independence. With the world’s seventh highest per-capita rate of car ownership, Australia has nearly 15 million cars on the road after adding over a million new cars last year.

“The Victorian Government supports any initiative that will have positive outcomes in reducing emissions in the transport sector and welcomes this innovative approach to help make broad adoption of EVs in Australia possible” said Victorian Premier John Brumby.

Better Place will use its scalable model, which Israel and Denmark have adopted, to build the EV network in Australia. Macquarie will assist in business development and help raise the funds required to build the the network.

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In support of the project, AGL will provide electricity from renewable sources to power the electric cars and enable Better Place to deliver sustainable transportation.

“As the world’s sixth largest country, our network build out in Australia will demonstrate that the Better Place model works in all countries, regardless of size,” said Shai Agassi, CEO and Founder of Better Place. “We are investing in Australia’s economy and adding jobs while helping the country take a generational leap forward toward oil independence. With our commitment to build infrastructure and the Federal Government’s $500 million Green Car Innovation Fund, there is a compelling case for automobile manufacturers to jump in and build clean, safe, affordable electric cars for Australasia and Southeast Asia.”

AGL Group General Manager Jeff Dimery said AGL will provide all of the renewable energy needed to power the EVs, while this initiative will accelerate the shift toward renewables that’s already underway.

“AGL is committed to increasing its renewable energy generation and believes it is important to collaborate and implement cross-industry initiatives to counter climate change. Because EVs charge primarily at night, they can maximise the potential of intermittent renewable energy such as wind” said Dimery.

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David Roseman, Head of Infrastructure and Utilities Advisory – Australasia, Macquarie Capital Group said,

“The Better Place business model is game changing and represents an exciting opportunity for Australian consumers, the environment, domestic automakers, the renewable energy sector, local industry and workers to move to the forefront of the energy revolution. Electric vehicles represent a more affordable alternative to the conventional combustion powered vehicle. We believe the combination of a competitively priced vehicle, being driven by cheaper and cleaner fuel is a compelling business case.”

Michael Molitor, Senior Advisor on Carbon Management, Pricewaterhouse Coopers added,

“Better Place is a simple and practical solution to the enormous climate change challenge facing Australia. It is a wonderful example of a low carbon transport solution that is feasible, cost-effective and can achieve results on a scale meaningful to the problem.”

Better Place has an existing partnership with the Renault-Nissan Alliance, the world leader in electric car development. The company is committed to open network access and leverages industry standards, allowing consumers to have a choice of make and model.

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Better Place expects the first mass market EV models to be available in Australia by the 2012 model year, a year after its mass market launch in Israel and Denmark.




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