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by Matt Brogan

Better Place, a Silicon Valley-based electric vehicle infrastructure company, said it plans to establish a country-wide EV charging network in Australia beginning late 2012.

The announcement will see Australia become only the third country in the world, behind Denmark and Israel, to adopt the infrastructure required to make electric vehicles feasible.

Locally, Better Place Australia, has so far raised $25 million in capital to fund the project, and says it estimates that by 2020 as many as 20 per cent of Australia’s cars will be powered by electricity sourced from renewable energy sources.

“Battery prices are going down, petrol prices are going up — that tells you what’s going to happen,” said CEO, Mr Evan Thornley.

Although Mr Thornley’s estimates may be a little optimistic, Australia is set to receive its first fleet of electric vehicles as early as this year with the Nissan Leaf, Mitsubishi iMiEV and Chevrolet Volt already on their way.

Better Place Australia will begin launching its EV charging network next year with Canberra this first city to receive the public charging stations (as pictured above). The network is set to expand to all other capital cities beginning the end of 2012.

“We’re going in early with the charge network,” Mr Thornley explained.

“With a combination of a large number of plug-in points and a small number of battery-swapping stations, mainly on the outer rims of major cities and the big connecting highways, you’ll be able to drive anywhere you want, whenever you want.”

Better Place will also offer battery swap stations as pert of the infrastructure model. The system would see a used battery exchanged for a fully charged one in around the same time it takes to fill a petrol-powered car. At the moment, Renault is the only car manufacturer developing swappable battery technology.

Better Place hopes to raise $1 billion over the next three years to fund its EV charging network. Money is expected to come from investors, Lend Lease Ventures, the RACV and ActewAGL. Reuters estimates Better Place’s worth at $1.25 billion.




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