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 user 2008-12-03 at 10:11:21 am Views: 57
  • #20750
    Hawaii to be 1st state with electric car stations
    – Hawaii has unveiled plans to be first in the nation to roll out
    electric car stations statewide — a move the governor hailed as a major
    step toward weaning the islands off oil.Hawaii imports foreign oil for
    almost 90 percent of its energy needs. One-third of that oil is used to
    power cars and buses on island streets.Gov. Linda Lingle said Tuesday
    the program would help Hawaii meet its goal of slashing fossil fuel use
    70 percent by 2030.”This is the preferred future,” Lingle said at a
    press conference. “Today is a part of the execution of our energy
    independence, and our getting off the addiction to oil.”Better Place, a
    Palo Alto, Calif.-based company, will build the car recharging stations
    and provide recharged batteries for electric cars.The company will
    purchase renewable energy — such as wind power — from Hawaiian Electric
    Co., the state’s largest utility.Better Place plans to have the
    stations open for the mass market by 2011. It expects to build between
    50,000 to 100,000 charge spots — in parking lots, downtown streets, and
    neighborhoods — across the state by early 2012.Other communities, like
    the San Francisco Bay area, have announced plans to host Better Place
    recharging stations. But Hawaii aims to be the first to have the
    stations statewide. Better Place also has deals to create electric
    vehicle infrastructures in Israel, Denmark and Australia.

    Agassi, Better Place’s founder and chief executive officer, said the
    Nissan Motor Co.-Renault SA auto alliance has agreed to make electric
    cars that would be recharged at the stations.Better Place is also
    talking to other automakers, including the U.S. Big Three: Chrysler
    LLC, Ford Motor Co., and General Motors Corp. Ford is planning to
    accelerate the roll-out of electric vehicles as part of its
    restructuring plan, submitted to Congress Tuesday. The first plug-in
    vehicle will be a Transit Connect small van for commercial use in 2010
    and a car the size of the Ford Focus compact the following year.

    Ford also said it will accelerate plans for hybrid gas-electric vehicles.
    said other carmakers have an incentive to follow Nissan/Renault because
    they would want to sell cars in the new markets Better Place is
    creating.”Nobody will want to be left on the sidelines once these
    networks are up,” Lingle said.Agassi said the electric cars will cost
    the same as gasoline powered vehicles.Over time, however, they will be
    cheaper to make because they will use half as many parts as cars with
    internal combustion engines.Better Place picked Hawaii for the first
    statewide rollout in part because the islands are a contained
    environment, with few vehicles coming in and out, Agassi said. Better
    Place would need to build a bigger network across several states to
    serve some mainland markets.

    Hawaii also has abundant renewable
    energy resources, including wind, solar, geothermal and wave power.
    This is important because Better Place won’t use oil, and aims to have
    a “zero carbon footprint.”For example, Agassi said Better Place plans
    to recharge its batteries at night with power from Hawaii’s wind farms.
    That power normally goes unused because of Hawaii’s low nighttime
    energy needs.Agassi sees Hawaii as an ideal place to show off Better
    Place technology because the state welcomes over five million tourists
    each year from the U.S. mainland, Japan, Canada and the rest of the

    “If we can get them into electric cars when they rent, we
    do two great things,” Agassi said. “One, we avoid emissions and, two,
    we use the opportunity to educate them, to teach them in Hawaii how it
    needs to be done in the rest of the world.”Lingle said the state
    doesn’t expect to spend any money to facilitate the network. However,
    she said the state may need to offer tax breaks or other incentives to
    encourage people to buy electric vehicles when they are first offered.