Tony O'Kane | Nov 11, 2009

AMERICAN FIRM Coulomb Technologies has signed up local company ChargePoint to distribute its electric vehicle charging systems in Australia. The roll-out of street-level charging stations is planned for 2010.

ChargePoint is currently in negotiations with government and private bodies in Melbourne, Perth and Sydney. It aims to install the first charging stations in the first half of next year as part of a pilot program.

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The initial roll-out will assess the impact of the wide-scale spread of public and private charging stations on the power grid. The information will then be used to prepare each city for an upcoming influx of plug-in hybrids and electric cars.

The Nissan Leaf, smart fortwo ED and Holden Volt are expected to arrive in Australia around 2012, as is Mitsubishi's i MiEV.

It's not immediately apparent how ChargePoint will accommodate the range of different charging plugs and voltages required by these cars. Local experts however have given their support to ChargePoint's initiative.

"Numerous studies have shown that there is the capacity for many electric vehicles to charge at off-peak times which can utilize grid assets more effectively," Dr Andrew Simpson, a Senior Research Fellow in electric vehicles at WA's Curtin University said.

"This means cheap energy can be sold to electric motorists through infrastructure such as the ChargePoint Network.

"There is a heightened awareness that electric transport is the way forward – electric cars are more sustainable, they will be affordable and can potentially emit zero emissions."

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ChargePoint's EV charging network won't be the only one of its type in this country.

Better Place Australia recently announced its commitment to start building a similar network in Canberra in 2011, and Nissan has established a partnership with the Victorian Government to help establish EV charging infrastructure.

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