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by Bridget Ahern

Electric car charging networks are set to enter the Chinese auto market with Renault-Nissan’s electric auto-technology company, Better Place, signing a deal with China’s largest independent carmaker and exporter.

The US-based Better Place said on Saturday it made a deal with Chery Automobile Co to collaborate on electric vehicle technology.

Under the arrangement, Better Place said the two companies will jointly develop switchable-battery electric vehicle prototypes to hopefully secure regional Chinese government pilot projects.

Better Place is looking to develop a network of charging stations for electric cars, making batteries more accessible for customers across China.

After more that two years of collaboration, Renault-Nissan and Better Place have developed rapid battery exchange stations that require just three minutes to perform the battery switch process.

Better Place is currently building networks in Denmark, Israel and Australia.

The auto-electric technology company is certainly not short on cash, raising $350 million in January from a consortium led by HSBC and Morgan Stanley Investment Management. The company is now valued at $1.25 billion.

Last year, China overtook the United States as the world’s biggest auto market with Chery sales at about 500,000 vehicles for 2009.




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