Steane Klose | Oct 24, 2008

In a plan announced yesterday, Australia looks set to be the third country in the world to establish an electric car network. International company Better Place is teaming up with AGL Energy and Macquarie Capital Group, with a view to putting the infrastructure in place that could see this country's vehicle fleet (some 15 million or so vehicles) running on battery power in the future.

The project will involve the establishment of 'charging spots' and 'battery exchange stations' in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. Charging spots would be located in car parks, shopping centres and even home garages. It is envisaged that battery exchange stations would be set up along major highways, allowing drivers to exchange batteries if covering distances longer than 160kms.

Better Place claims that the electric vehicle network will allow zero emission vehicles to run on clean energy grids, and plans to use the Australian 'model' to prove that their vision for an electric car network is viable anywhere. AGL's role in the enterprise will be the supply of power from renewable sources, such as hydro and wind. Macquarie Capital Group will do what they do best, and raise the one billion dollars required to build the project.

The first step of the project will entail building the required infrastructure, while in the background the group will be dealing with car manufacturers, with a view to having them build suitable electric vehicles.

Australia is the third country to embrace the project, with Denmark and Israel agreeing to set up similar networks earlier this year. With long distances between its capital cities, it appears that Australia is being viewed as the ultimate 'guinea pig', if they can make it work here... they can make it work anywhere.

Earlier this year, Denmark and Israel undertook to establish the world's first electric car networks.

To suggest that the project is ambitious is an understatement, and surprisingly this does not sound like a 'read about it now, see it in 15 years time' project. The group plan to have the infrastructure project in place by 2011, with a view to the first battery powered cars hitting the road later that year! Hard to believe isn't it?

The grand plan is not only green in nature, but includes what is described as a "generational leap forward toward oil independence".

It's not April fools day, so it looks like Better Place and its partners are serious about this one, making it a project that TMR will be keeping a close and interested eye on.

Follow Steane Klose on Google+