Better Place Australia, the company responsible for constructing the country’s electric vehicle infrastructure, today announced that it has secured $25 million from its initial round of funding.

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The funding round was led by Lend Lease Ventures – the venture capital arm of Lend Lease – and included investments by ActewAGL and several private investors.

Better Place founder and CEO, Shai Agassi, said the funding was a promising nod from big business.

“We’re delighted to welcome Lend Lease Ventures as an investor in our Australian business – working with us to help the country take a generational leap forward toward oil independence and sustainability.“The investment marks our second successful financing in 2009, and we believe it’s indicative of growing interest in Better Place from institutions and far-sighted corporations seeking thematic investment opportunities to fight climate change,” he said.

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The $25 million represents the first part of Better Place’s five-year plan to raise $1 billion for the operation of an EV network powered by renewable energy in Australia.

This initial round of seed funding will finance a range of planning, engineering, demonstration and trial activities in the lead up to the first stage of deployment, which will commence in Canberra in 2011.

And one group that will be taking full advantage of the new EV infrastructure is Blade Electric Vehicles (BEV), an electric conversion company based in Castlemaine, central Victoria.

The retrofitted Hyundai Getz – simply known as the Electron – has become the first vehicle to pass Victoria’s new Australian Design Rule (ADR) crash test for electric cars.

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BEV founder, Ross Blade, confirmed that next year the Electron will be put through its paces in a full ANCAP test, which is performed at 64km/h, 8km/h more than the ADR testing.

The Electron is powered by an electric motor with a primary range of 100km and can be fully recharged rapidly in one hour or from a standard power point in eight hours.

Unlike other systems, including the Tesla Roadster EV which uses 6000 small batteries, the Electron has just 56 non-combustible Li-Ion Phosphate prismatic cells, and if problems arise the batteries can be replaced individually rather than removing the whole stack.

And with a top speed of 110km/h and a 0-100km/h time of 7.0 seconds the Electron is more than 2.5 seconds quicker than the 1.6-litre petrol model CarAdvice tested in September.

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At $48,000 however, the Electron costs around three times as much as the Getz.

But one happy customer expects his to pay for itself within four years.

After 20,000km in his Electron – one of more than 20 already sold to private and government buyers – Alan Gray said it costs him 97c per 100km compared to $12 for the petrol version.

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New Zealand Environment Minister, Nick Smith, is another satisfied Electron owner and his only concern about it was how quiet it was on the road, describing it as “silent as a baby”.

The Electron works on a buy-back scheme, where customers purchase the car for $48,000 initially and can then sell it back to BEV for $24,000 after the first year, $21,000 after the second and $18,000 after the third.