Volt is 'go' for Oz as charging-point deal unveiled
Up to 750,000 power feeds planned
'Leccy Tech Following on from its antipodean appearance at the Australian International Motor Show in Sydney, the
Chevy Holden Volt is coming to Oz. And Australian power company AGL is going to put in charging infrastructure.
We're a little saddened that the Outback may soon cease to reverberate to the bellow of V8-engined Holden Commodores, replaced by the whiffle and hum of the Volt, but such are the days we live in.
Holden's Volt: not for Hoons
In related news, Australian power company AGL and finance group Macquarie Capital have signed an agreement with international operation Better Place to provide infrastructure support for environmentally friendly vehicles in Oz.
This makes God's Own Country the third nation after Denmark and Israel to buy into Better Place CEO Shai Agassi's - utopian? - dream of establishing networks of 'leccy charging stations and battery swapping facilities across the world.
Under the terms of the deal, the Au$1bn ($604m/£394m/€487m) to be raised by Macquarie will apparently result in between 200,000 and quarter of a million charging stations being created in Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney by 2012. Yes, that's between 200,000-250,000 in each city. They will be installed in homes, work places, car parks - in fact just about any place you can get your car within a cable's length of.
Each city will also get 150 switching stations where you pull up, have the attendant clean your windscreen, check the tyres and replace your battery pack.
The Australian tax payer will be backing the deal with Au$500m ($302m/£197m/€244m) from the Federal Green Car Innovation Fund. Assuming the basic idea is the same as the one Better Place is developing in Israel, this will result in the entire recharge infrastructure being owned and run by Better Place, with car owners having to 'subscribe' to get juice, though punters will also get subsidised cars though the agreement.
Better Place compare the model with mobile phone contracts, though in the UK at least you can go to 3, Vodafone, Orange, T-Mobile or O2 for a contract, or opt for PAYG. A better analogy would surely be having to have a contract with Shell to buy petrol, with Shell being the only company with petrol stations, or at least the only ones with pump nozzles that fit your car.
Brings a whole new meaning to the phrase “owning the road", no?
Of course, between the announcement last Thursday and today, the word's stock markets have fallen into the toilet again, so just how easy that 400 million quid will be to actually raise is anyone's guess.
Better Place wants to power 'leccy cars greenly - except in France, perhaps...
One of Better Places' big ideas is that power for its system will be generated from sustainable sources. According to its web site, this means excess from wind turbine production in Denmark and an increase in solar capacity in Israel. No news on where the 'free' juice will be coming from in Oz though - sun and surf, we'd suggest.
Better Place is working with Renault-Nissan on the removable battery front, though of course any French 'leccy car infrastructure will be supplied by a far less comfy and woolly source of power: the good old nuclear reactor.
In May 2008, Agassi estimated that Renault-Nissan would be likely to invest between $500m and $1bn (£326-652m/€404-807m) in the idea of the swappable-battery electric car. Since then, Renault has been mentioned as a potential buyer for all or part of US car maker Chrysler but is also cutting back its Q4 car production by 20 per cent and idling its plants by up to two weeks as the global car industry goes into what some are calling meltdown.
Better Place also claims to be in involved in talks with 25 other countries about setting up 'leccy car infrastructure, as well as Mayor Gavin Newsom of San Francisco.
It's about time
I've been hoping that we'd be giving up on fossil fuel burning autos for a long time, but for some reason hadn't until now noticed anything about any corporations with the marketing savy to begin to set up a network of "filling stations". For Personally I hate cars, and would much rather walk or ride a bike, but I think the time has come to slow down our polluting. I hope the batteries on such beasts would not be landfill items at the end of their lives.
If we can't get out of the mode that we all must drive around in our own private vehicles, at least the idea of minimizing the damage they cause to the environment is a good start. But what would it take to move us from getting our heads wrapped around public transport instead of roughly 80 percent (in Canada anyway) of the traffic on the road being in private vehicles only carrying the driver?
Great! my tax dollars are going towards another "green" scheme that is worse for the environment that the original problem. You've upset me now.
Of course even if the leccy was generated from renewable sources, we like our big v6's and v8's and our big 4wds here in Oz (especially in the outback), so it's still going to be a flop. Who really wants to pay a premium for a tiny car that is slower than a normal car, and has a range of only 30km, not to mention that the leccy will probably end up costing more than petrol anyway.
Big FAIL as far as I'm concerned.
Good for the environment?
Given that about 85% of Australia's electricity is generated from burning coal, can someone tell me how this is any better than cars running on petrol? Until a greater percentage of their electricity generation is happening from renewables this smells suspiciously like greenwash...
Fine in somewhere like New Zealand where the electricity is mostly from hydro.