Mike Stevens | Aug 24, 2009

FOLLOWING THE RECENT announcement that it would build the nation's first electric vehicle network in Canberra, Better Place Australia has today signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the University of Melbourne to develop projects aimed at accelerating Australia's adoption of electric vehicles.

An energy education facility will be built at the University's main campus in the Melbourne CBD, giving the public a 'hands on' opportunity to learn about state-of-the-art electric vehicle technologies.

Design and construction of the new facility, intended to provide students and the general public with an opportunity to 'touch and feel' exhibits designed to educate about electric vehicles, energy and the environment, will begin in 2011.

Teaming up for research and education projects, the two organisations will use the partnership to both road-test electric vehicles in the university's fleet and to provide tailored mechanical and electrical engineering training to the Australian car industry.

Fittingly, the Memorandum of Understanding was signed on the bonnet of Better Place Australia's first demonstration electric vehicle, by Better Place Australia CEO Evan Thornley and University of Melbourne Vice Chancellor Glyn Davis.

The demonstration electric vehicle is housed at the University of Melbourne, where it will be used to evaluate the benefits of EV technology to Australian motorists.

Mr Thornley said the partnership - as with that signed recently with the city of Canberra - represents an important step in the collaboration between the private and public sectors for the future of electric vehicles.

"Our research shows there's proven demand for electric vehicles, and this partnership is further evidence that the transition is inevitable," Mr Thornley said this morning at the University of Melbourne.

"The challenge now lies with companies like Better Place, carmakers, the energy sector and governments alike to harness this demand to fast-track solutions.”

Professor Steven Prawer, Director of the University of Melbourne Materials Institute, said the university is eager to begin work on what he described as a transformative technology.

“This initiative is set to make a significant contribution to Victoria’s environmental agenda by combining the University’s broad research endeavours with the business and consumer side of the innovation process,” Professor Prawer said.

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