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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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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
quote:
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
quote:
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
quote:
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....


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