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Electric Car Network: Green Motoring Moves Closer To Reality

Motoring Channel Staff - 24/October/2008

Electric Vehicle Network
Electric Vehicle Network: Green power
coming to an Australian city near you

Electric Vehicle Network Chevrolet Volt
The Chevrolet Volt, likely to be a Holden Volt when it
arrives in Australia in 2012, will be one of the plug-in
electric vehicles able take advantage of an EV network

Electric Vehicle Network

What's the purpose of an EV network, if you can just plug your car into the wall socket at night to recharge it?

The first generation of plug-in electric cars are limited (via their battery technology) to driving short distances. The range of most electric vehicles arriving in Australia in 2012 will be around 60km to 100km which is where charging infrastructure comes in, extending their range.

It's also interesting to note that an investment bank like Macquarie has managed to raise such capital and is pouring big bucks into the venture, especially considering how hard it is to come by large amounts of cash during the current global financial crisis.

The deal is also being looked at by Pricewaterhouse Coopers, and the bean counters seem to like it: "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," commented Michael Molitor, PWC's senior adviser on carbon management.

The new EV network could end up being like a telecommunications network, whereby vendors - such as Toyota, Holden, Ford and so forth - would pay fees to Better Place so that their cars can use the Better Place recharging stations.

Interestingly, the Better Place corporation has an existing partnership with Renault-Nissan which throws up the question of preferential treatment. However Better Place claims "The company is committed to open network access and leverages industry standards, allowing consumers to have a choice of make and model."

Interesting times ahead, no doubt about it.

- Feann Torr, Editor

Melbourne, Australia — In just three years time, we could be filling up or 'recharging' our silent cars at green energy hubs instead of petrol stations.

A new consortium formed by a troika of serious investors has plans to develop an electric vehicle network in Australia.

This new electric vehicle network would be the third such infrastructure rollout in the world, with plans underway in the Middle East and Europe.

The biggest hurdle facing the impending green car revolution - including cars running via electricity and hydrogen fuel cells - is the infrastructure.

But with the backing of a consortium formed by the Macquarie Capital Group, AGL, and Better Place, Australia could be set usher in a new era of green motoring with an electric vehicle (EV) network powered by renewable energy.

The hydrogen powered car is still many decades away because of the cost involved in both storing the volatile fuel, and also in generating it. 

However the energy source for electric cars fitted with rechargable lithium batteries is much more widely available: electricity.

The three corporations that plan on being pioneers in the field of EV networks, expected to be ready in Australia in 2012, appear to havethe blessing of the Victorian State Premier, John Brumby, which is a positive indication that progress can be made.

"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 Mr Brumby.

The Macquarie bank will provide the cash, around $1 billion; Better Place will draw up the plans, provide the technology and maintain the infrastructure; AGL will supply green electricity from sources such as wind and solar.

The reason that AGL wants to be in on the project is to supply green energy to car drivers, so that the electricity used to charge the vehicles is not generating CO2, which is currently the case with 90% of the electricity generation in Australia (which comes from burning coal).

In this way, cars running on the new EV network would be carbon neutral and AGL would receive an eco-friendly PR boost.

"Because EVs charge primarily at night, they can maximise the potential of intermittent renewable energy such as wind," said AGL's Jeff Dimery.

According to the Californian-based renewable energies corporation Better Place, this new EV network will allow the upcoming generation of plug-in electric vehicles to charge rapidly with clean electricity, and is a "model for sustainable mobility [that] will help Australia move toward oil independence." 

Better Place's EV network is a scalable model, which has been adopted by Denmark and Israel for use in 2011 and is being proposed for Melbourne, and is expected to be ready in 2012.

"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, the CEO 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," Agassi added.

Investment power house Macquarie Capital Group will fund the EV network to the tune of around $1 billion.

"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," said David Roseman, the head adviser of infrastructure and utilities at Macquarie Capital Group.

"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," Roseman said.

The Electric Vehicle Network

Under the new plan for east coast cities in Australia, including Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, there would be charging areas setup in car parks, shopping centres and places frequented by drivers to recharge their vehicles.

The EV network is being compared to a mobile phone network, where the charging stations would be equivalent to the mobile phone towers that enable telephony possible, and would eventually pop up across cities and their surrounding suburbs.

According to the consortium, the charging devices would look like parking meters and would comprise of cabling to connect electric vehicles to the green energy grid.

Because the first generation of electric cars will have limited cruising ranges, this bold new EV network plan will also provide battery switching stations on highways and outer suburbs, where drivers can instantly top up their batteries for extended journeys.

Related Links:
- Chevrolet Volt (2011)
- Toyota Prius (2010)
- Mini E (2009)
- Holden AFM V8 + EcoLine (2009)
- Peugeot HYmotion3 (2008)
- Ze-O Electric Car & Lexus Hybrids (2008)
- Ethanol & E85 Issues (2007)

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