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Australian Electric Car Network Announced

October 23rd, 2008
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Australia will become the third country in the world, behind only Israel and Denmark, to have an electric car network in operation by the end of 2012.

In a deal between international mobility operator Better Place (builders of the electric vehicle networks), AGL Energy (who will supply the energy from renewable sources) and Macquarie Capital, the aim is provide zero emission vehicles with energy charging spots in the major cities of Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.

The charging spots will look like parking metres with cables sticking out that drivers can plug their electric vehicles batteries into and will be powered by a green energy grid.

Of note is that at the recent 2008 Sydney International Motor Show, Nissan announced that they will launch a light sized, mass produced zero emissions electric car with seating for at least 4 adults in Australia during 2012.  Renault-Nissan Alliance has an existing partnership with Better Place.

Full press release below:

Better Place today announced agreements with AGL Energy and financial advisor Macquarie Capital Group to raise $1 billion (AUD) and begin deploying an electric vehicle (EV) network powered by renewable energy. The Better Place model for sustainable mobility will help Australia move toward oil independence. With the world’s seventh highest per capita rate of car ownership, the country has nearly 15 million cars on the road after adding over a million new cars last year.

Victorian Premier John Brumby said, “The Victorian Government supports any initiative that will have positive outcomes in reducing emissions in the transport sector and welcomes this innovative approach to help make broad adoption of EVs in Australia possible.”

Better Place will use its scalable model, which Israel and Denmark have adopted, to build the EV network in Australia.  Macquarie will assist in business development and help raise AUD $1 billion for the network build.  In support of the project, AGL will provide electricity from renewable sources to power the electric cars and enable Better Place to deliver sustainable transportation.

“As the world’s sixth largest country, our network build out in Australia will demonstrate that the Better Place model works in all countries, regardless of size,” said Shai Agassi, CEO and Founder of Better Place.  “We are investing in Australia’s economy and adding jobs while helping the country take a generational leap forward toward oil independence.”  Agassi added, “With our commitment to build infrastructure and the Federal Government’s $500 million Green Car Innovation Fund, there is a compelling case for automobile manufacturers to jump in and build clean, safe, affordable electric cars for Australasia and Southeast Asia.”

AGL Group General Manager Jeff Dimery said AGL will provide all of the renewable energy needed to power the EVs, while this initiative will accelerate the shift toward renewables that’s already underway. “AGL is committed to increasing its renewable energy generation and believes it is important to collaborate and implement cross-industry initiatives to counter climate change. Because EVs charge primarily at night, they can maximize the potential of intermittent renewable energy such as wind.”

David Roseman, Head of Infrastructure and Utilities Advisory – Australasia, Macquarie Capital Group said, “The Better Place business model is game changing and represents an exciting opportunity for Australian consumers, the environment, domestic automakers, the renewable energy sector, local industry and workers to move to the forefront of the energy revolution. 

“Electric vehicles represent a more affordable alternative to the conventional combustion powered vehicle. We believe the combination of a competitively priced vehicle, being driven by cheaper and cleaner fuel is a compelling business case,” Roseman said. 

Michael Molitor, Senior Advisor on Carbon Management, Pricewaterhouse Coopers, said, “Better Place is a simple and practical solution to the enormous climate change challenge facing Australia.  It is a wonderful example of a low carbon transport solution that is feasible, cost-effective and can achieve results on a scale meaningful to the problem."

Better Place has an existing partnership with The Renault-Nissan Alliance, the world leader in electric car development. The company is committed to open network access and leverages industry standards, allowing consumers to have a choice of make and model.  Better Place expects the first mass market EV models to be available in Australia by the 2012 model year, a year after its mass market launch in Israel and Denmark.

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