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Cities would get up to 250,000 charging stations each

Electric cars have lots of potential, but currently they have many drawbacks as well. A couple of the biggest drawbacks for electric cars are limited driving range and the fact that most cities aren't set up with easy access to charging stations.

An American firm is looking to make charging electric vehicles easier in Australia. The firm is called Better Place and has unveiled plans that would place an electrical charging network costing $667 million in major cities in Australia. Working with Better Place to make the charging network a reality is Australian power company AGL and finance group Macquarie Capital.

The agreement with have the finance group raising the money to build the charge network and placing the network in the country's largest cities like Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane. AGL says that the electricity for the system would be generated by renewable means.

Each of the three cities would have a network of between 200,000 and 250,000 charging stations by 2012. Drivers of electric vehicles would pay similarly to a cellular calling plan where the cost is based on the amount of power used.

Better Place CEO Shai Agassi said in a statement, "We call it a ubiquitous charging network across the cities. We are investing in Australia's economy and adding jobs while helping the country take a generational leap forward toward oil independence."

Once the charge system is in place commuters would have less reason not to buy electric cars and the Australian government might offer tax incentives or free power for early adopters of the charge network.

Several carmakers that sell vehicles in Australia are bringing electric vehicles to market including GM and Renault-Nissan. Agassi is encouraging Australian carmakers to develop their own electric vehicles. The network will also have 150 switch stations in each city where drivers of electric cars can pull through a car wash like building and exchange depleted battery packs for fresh ones.

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By Brandon Hill on 10/24/2008 11:13:54 AM , Rating: 4
An American firm is looking to make charging electric vehicles easier in Australia.

WTH? What about us?

By Sandok on 10/24/2008 11:22:14 AM , Rating: 4
Apparently American companies don't think American people want such an infrastructure...

Sucks to be America, rules to be Australia!

By othercents on 10/24/08, Rating: -1
By Ordr on 10/24/08, Rating: -1
By StevoLincolnite on 10/24/2008 8:18:50 PM , Rating: 5
Could also be because Australia is smaller in both population size and city density compared to most of American Capital City's - So it makes good sense to set-up here in Aus and test it out.

Also to the other posters... I don't think the Australian Government is funding any of this, yet... I think AGL (Australian Gas and Lighting) will be funding a large portion of the infrastructure.

Personally I'm around 8 hours drive from Adelaide, where no public transport exists, I am yet to even "see" a Hybrid Car of any type in person. xD

By Hoser McMoose on 10/26/2008 8:45:13 PM , Rating: 2
The Aussie government is involved in a least one way, albeit not a direct one.

Fuel taxes in Australia are currently $0.38/litre (AUS $) plus 10% on the final price. Current prices are running around $1.50/litre, so that is about $0.51/litre tax on gasoline.

Converted to U.S. dollars that works out to a tax of $0.31/litre.

For comparison the tax rate in the U.S. are mostly about $0.40 to $0.50 per gallon (varies from State to State), or between $0.10/litre to $0.13/litre. Even California ($0.64/gallon, or $0.165/litre, combined Fed. and State tax) has only half the gas tax that Australia does.

Higher tax on gasoline means the incentive to switch to electric is higher... assuming there isn't a corresponding high tax on electricity. To the best of my knowledge though the only tax on electricity in Australia is the 10% GST.

By JasonMick on 10/24/2008 11:23:56 AM , Rating: 3
Aussie: No! It's a Rocky Mountain rattle snake. This is the most poisonous snake in this entire region. [quietly] Now, what I'm gonna do, is carefully sneak up on him, and jam my thumb...Awww, yeah, that pissed it off all right!

Mephesto Does he always do this?

By Smartless on 10/24/2008 4:09:11 PM , Rating: 2
"These clothes are from Eddie Bauer. I haven't seen anyone wearing clothes like this since 1996."

He wait a second... I'm wearing Eddie Bauer. DOH!

By croc on 10/25/2008 2:14:42 AM , Rating: 2
Australia has about 17 of the most poisonous snakes in the world... And several of the top venomous, mean and nasty spiders. If an Aussie weas bitten by a rattlesnake, he'd kill the snake and cook it for lunch, washed down with a VB. (I hope you are trying to take the mickey here...)

To the topic, though, this whole project seems to me something of a 'field of dreams' thing. But as long as AGL doesn't raise my rates, I look forward to watching this idea progress.

By xsilver on 10/27/2008 6:41:27 AM , Rating: 2
The funny thing I found about the OP's post is that americans like to grandiose their poisonous snakes with deathly names while the most poisonous snake in australia is the brown snake.

By rcc on 10/27/2008 3:00:58 PM , Rating: 2
Hmm, you mean like rattlesnake, because it has a rattle?

Or Cotton mouth.

They are mostly just descriptive.

By on 10/27/2008 6:05:13 PM , Rating: 2
didnt you know that us Aussies ride around the streets in the pouch of a kangaroo?

By tjr508 on 10/24/2008 12:05:25 PM , Rating: 2
Americans have $1.50 gas to look forward to for a couple years now by the way the market is looking. Who needs a battery when a you got a V8?

By AntiM on 10/24/2008 12:17:10 PM , Rating: 3
Americans have $1.50 gas to look forward to for a couple years now by the way the market is looking. Who needs a battery when a you got a V8?

I wouldn't bet on that. OPEC is already cutting production. Once the US economy picks back up, gas will be back to $4.00 or more. Plus, the Middle East is so volatile, there's no telling what might happen from one day to the next.
As for electric cars, I think investing in a hydrogen infrastructure would be a much better idea.

By tjr508 on 10/24/2008 12:31:43 PM , Rating: 1
If you would have bet on that on Oct 3rd with $1000, your bet would now be worth $150,000 on the options market. Just saying...

By themengsk176 on 10/24/2008 12:50:40 PM , Rating: 2
The Middle East wouldn't be so volatile if we (the US) didn't keep stirring crap up over there.

Our aggravating Iran alone plays a role in keeping the price of oil up.

We all grew up in the 90's, we all knew the era of cheap gas was going to end, and all those idiots with huge SUV's would have egg on their faces. Maybe we needed this to happen so we would take alternative energies seriously.

By Spuke on 10/24/2008 1:32:52 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe we needed this to happen so we would take alternative energies seriously.
Yes, because not having a job or having your retirement dry up right before retirement is SOOOOO much less important.

By themengsk176 on 10/24/2008 1:39:03 PM , Rating: 2
At least the baby boomer (and older) generation might get to retire.

I'll have to work till I'm 75

By Ringold on 10/24/2008 9:17:33 PM , Rating: 2
We all grew up in the 90's,

There's why your first statement about the Middle East is wrong. If the US left, there'd still be Israel. If they eradicated Israel, history going back to the very start of our species suggests they'd then turn on each other using whatever pretense is most convenient for them. The area is volatile now with our influence in the region, it was volatile when the European powers the major influence, it was volatile before that, and it'll be volatile now.

I heard someone say the Middle East is where Europe was roughly before Martin Luther tacked his 95 theses on the door of a church. That has not yet happened in Islam. Even after it does, they may have decades of violent internal strife. European tranquility, you'll note, is extremely recent in terms of history.

Seriously, there is history before 1990. I know it's trendy to think everything is our fault and it'd all be better if we shrank in to our shell like a cowardly turtle, but it just aint so.

By barclay on 10/26/2008 1:37:31 PM , Rating: 2
> "Seriously, there is history before 1990. I know it's trendy to think everything is our fault"

In the immortal words of Billy Joel, "we didn't start the fire."

By chmilz on 10/24/2008 12:52:28 PM , Rating: 1
Probably because their power grid isn't older than the country itself, and their government isn't plagued by bureaucratic red tape that would stifle the endeavor.

By StevoLincolnite on 10/24/2008 8:25:17 PM , Rating: 2
That's both a good thing and a bad thing, At the moment they are attempting to "censor" the Internet for all Australians which is going to bring in slower speeds and legit web pages unable to be accessed by everyone, good thing is we are getting the National Broadband Network sometime this century, sometimes the Aussie Government can do a good thing (like this) and sometimes pull completely crappy stunts (like a Simplified China' Censored Internet)

By croc on 10/25/2008 1:46:15 AM , Rating: 2
Get clue... Or a passport, or both. The Gov't's been trying to float this idea for at least 7 years now, and to this point it has come to nought. The gov't provided a free kiddie filter, and the take-up was miniscule.

By gumbi18 on 10/26/2008 6:49:16 PM , Rating: 2
Mate they're actually testing the filters right now. It's already been tested in Tasmania. This is not just some pipe dream that the government has. It's soon set to be reality. The government has spent god knows how much money on ISP level filtering and unfortunately won't give up on it.

By foolsgambit11 on 10/24/2008 7:47:55 PM , Rating: 2
WTH? What about us?
I'm not clear what you mean. Are you American, asking why the American company isn't doing this in America? Or are you Australian, asking why an Australian company isn't doing this?

By Reclaimer77 on 10/27/2008 4:21:27 PM , Rating: 2
WTH? What about us?

Do US a favor and move to Australia.

Great start
By littleprince on 10/24/2008 11:31:13 AM , Rating: 2
This is a great start.
The thing that concerns me, is that there is no standard yet.

With gasoline, there is a standard for inlet and outlet. Every car is compatible with every gas station.

What kind of plugs/voltage/current will these stations provide? Will plugin cars sold in AUS all have to be compatible with these plugs? What if the Plugin Prius isn't, and Brand X isn't, etc?

It has to be a robust standard that will last the next 50 years.

At least this is a start!

RE: Great start
By Spivonious on 10/24/2008 11:49:21 AM , Rating: 2
I imagine the plugs will look just like the plugs in your house. Doing anything else would defeat the purpose of plug-in cars.

RE: Great start
By tjr508 on 10/24/2008 12:00:49 PM , Rating: 5
Not really. The charging process can be greatly optimized with equipment you may not want to be hauling around with you in your car. Also, factors like availability of a 3-phase source could reduce the amount of hardware needed to preform the said task of charging a battery.

RE: Great start
By grath on 10/30/2008 9:00:01 PM , Rating: 2
Something like the plugs in your house arent nearly durable or safe enough for this application. Think of the nozzle and hose at a gas pump that have to survive the near constant beating of people in a hurry slamming it back and forth between cradle and tank, subjected to a hot or cold wet greasy and dirty environment, breaking away if people drive off without removing it from their tank, and still doing the job safely. Handling electricity rather than combustible liquid does simplify the requirements and make it safer, but the environmental and durability challenge is the same.

RE: Great start
By Raidin on 10/24/2008 2:09:30 PM , Rating: 2
The thing is, charging your car at the gas station isn't really going to work. Charging a car usually takes over an hour at the least, from everything I've read so far. No one's going to spend that much time there, so having a standard on the plug on the end of the cable isn't necessary. At home, a standard is moot anyway.

That's why if anyone builds a full-scale infrastructure for electric transportation, they will have to go with the swappable battery idea, preferably through an automated process (as the article mentions) using some sort of robotic arm or something.

This way, the batteries at the station are always being recharged, with a supply of fully-charged ones on standby for motorists to exchange. You pay a fee that equals the power that went into the battery, the cost to keep and charge the batteries at the station, and a fraction of battery replacement cost. The last charge is to allow the stations to replace their batteries with newer models as they are developed (or getting rid of defective ones), removing the hassle from the consumer's end, and possibly making some profit over it for the station.

This also helps the organization handling the system (or the government) to adapt new battery technology on a more universal level for the entire market in one push.

I look forward to such a day, but what a hassle it will be to stop for new batteries if your max range is under 100 miles.

RE: Great start
By Spuke on 10/24/2008 3:50:04 PM , Rating: 2
I look forward to such a day, but what a hassle it will be to stop for new batteries if your max range is under 100 miles.
I look forward to the expense of something like this and the inevitable whining that will ensue because of it. Oh well, I'll be able to afford it.

RE: Great start
By Raidin on 10/24/2008 4:06:25 PM , Rating: 2
I doubt it will cost that much. Electricity as fuel is less expensive than gasoline from what I remember reading (please correct me if I'm wrong), and since there would be so many of these batteries all over the place, constantly being worn down by constant charging and discharging, the manufacturing process will require high efficiency and low-cost production methods, not to mention that the sheer quantity of them around will keep costs down.

RE: Great start
By Spuke on 10/24/2008 4:47:53 PM , Rating: 2
I doubt it will cost that much.
So you're saying that we won't have to pay for those robots and extra batteries? Or the extra insurance that the stations will have to carry for accidental damage (robot goes haywire and drops battery pack on hood). So those costs will be sucked up by the "gas stations"? Or the added electrical loads these stations will need in order to charge all of those batteries (they'll need a sh!tload of them to keep lines from forming down the street)?

RE: Great start
By Raidin on 10/24/2008 5:26:28 PM , Rating: 2
It's not that different now. Gas stations have all kinds of costs to deal with. Transportation of the gasoline, storage, insurance. On top of that, electricity will be locally supplied, not imported from around the world via a cartel.

What would you think would cause prices for batteries to be higher than gas prices?

RE: Great start
By Spuke on 10/24/2008 7:10:35 PM , Rating: 2
What would you think would cause prices for batteries to be higher than gas prices?
Read my post again.

RE: Great start
By foolsgambit11 on 10/24/2008 8:00:31 PM , Rating: 3
Better yet would be a two-pronged approach to charging a battery - fast charge and trickle charge. At a gas station, or some location with 3-phase, you could do a quick 10-minute charge, and at home, you could do a trickle charge.

If you have sufficient range for everyday driving (say, 150 miles or so), you can charge slowly at home overnight. If you are going further than that, you'll have to put up with 10 minute pit-stops every two hours or so. Surprise! That's a good idea anyway. Get out, stretch your legs, go to the bathroom. Or sit in your car, turn on the DVD player you have mounted in the dash and watch part of a movie. I don't care. But 10 minutes every 2 hours instead of 5 minutes every 3 hours (a rough estimate of filling up with gas) isn't as big of a deal as people make it out to be.

Still, I don't think we're quite to the 10 minute bulk-charge mark yet. We're somewhere around 20 minutes, if I remember correctly. But I can see the electric car being practical and popular in the next 10 to 20 years. Of course, it always seems to be 10 years off....

By Chemical Chris on 10/24/2008 5:52:45 PM , Rating: 2
place an electrical charging network costing $667 million in major cities in Australia

Seems like a relative bargain to me. The US financial bailout could probably have put charging networks across most of the developed world, which would seem to be a much better use of the funds.
Im not even going to get into it in any more detail, its just to depressing.
But for this to work, wouldnt the cars need to recharge in a matter of minutes, similiar to putting fuel into a vehicle? I remember reading about batteries that offered 10 to 90% recharge times of ~1-2 mins, but they were still 'in development'.
The whole idea of 'switching' the battery packs seems misguided; what if you buy a brand new vehicle, go and 'refill' a few days later, and are given a 10 year old replacement pack, which then exploded 10 minutes later, leaving you with a damaged vehicle and no battery. Who would 'own' the battery, and be responsible for it?
Still, a good idea I wish Canada would adobt....whats the point of having a wealthy country if you're not going to use some of it to be a world leader?


RE: Cost
By Ringold on 10/24/2008 9:30:08 PM , Rating: 2
The bailout wasn't an expenditure, it was an investment that'll likely turn a profit. That said, not sure why it's depressing; the rest of world has followed on, confirming its necessity. Would you rather have no global financial system with which to finance your infrastructure projects with? The system froze up entirely, it's no coincidence that a global recession has now been kicked off. If it's froze and completely collapsed, it'd of been the Great Depression 2.0. I assume you do know that reluctance to respond to a banking crisis is a root cause of the first one.

This may not necessarily have to be too inflationary either if the Fed and ECB have the melons to hike rates next year. Whether the next president will give them the Fed the political cover necessary is another debate entirely.

RE: Cost
By Chemical Chris on 10/25/2008 1:36:08 PM , Rating: 2
I have heard lots about how the bailout was necessary, and it likely was, however, we should never have been a position where that was the only option. That money, if spent on 'noble' causes to benefit all mankind, would have done a hell of a lot.

RE: Cost
By Ringold on 10/25/2008 5:03:29 PM , Rating: 2
Part of the point is, it wasn't spent, like welfare is "spent." Welfare money is gone from government coffers, never to return. Same with 99% of government spending. But every day these banks continue to use these government lines of credit and let preferred shares remain outstanding is another day Uncle Sam is accruing interest payments. Uncle Sam is funded at, say, 4%, and it's lending money to AIG, for example, at 10%, a net 6% profit for the taxpayer. There's a pretty big difference.

Whether or not the United States Hedge Fund is morally right or wrong is water under the bridge at this point. And whether or not it's money that could be "spent" on other things is a false dilemma. Delayed, possibly, if politicians suddenly grow some concern over total debt, but I've not heard a politician say yet "You know, this new museum, it can't be built because of the bailout." Instead, if you actually listen to all those Keynesians in DC, if anything it has made their resolve to spend huge sums of money even greater than before.

Australia is only the latest
By Magendanz on 10/24/2008 4:06:23 PM , Rating: 2
It's more than just Austrailia. Since Better Place’s inception in October 2007, Israel and Denmark have committed to deploying these electric car networks, and France is also close to signing up. I heard Shai Agassi speak at the Beyond Oil conference last month, and he's quite the visionary. He's got one seriously audacious plan.

RE: Australia is only the latest
By fibreoptik on 10/27/2008 11:03:51 AM , Rating: 2
It's the beginning of a NEW ERA and people are STILL too stubborn to admit it (see comment above about $1.50 gas/V8 blah blah blah)

When the hell are people going to wake the F up...?

By swizeus on 10/24/2008 12:01:25 PM , Rating: 2
Don't get them wrong dude.... they're just testing out just to see what is the failure point and when it is not feasible in america, they would just abandon it...


The Heck with Global Warming, we just want to sell new types of cars to the new market segment and get the hell out of OPEC's monopoly

I wish i was a bird
By on 10/27/08, Rating: -1
"The whole principle [of censorship] is wrong. It's like demanding that grown men live on skim milk because the baby can't have steak." -- Robert Heinlein
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