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Electric charger roll-out

ChargePoint CEO Luke Grana says it would cost about $2 per 100km to drive an electric vehicle
Mark Hinchliffe

17 Nov 2009 • 3 min read

California-based Better Place earlier this year announced plans to roll out charging points and battery-switching infrastructure throughout Australia.  Now Australian company ChargePoint has announced it will supply charging equipment for public and private use across Australia using American Coulomb Technologies chargers and software.

ChargePoint CEO Luke Grana says they would provide two types of chargers: single phase 240V at 15A fully that charges an electric vehicle in about eight hours and three-phase charging that takes about two to four hours, with different prices for slow or quick charges. 

Grana says it would cost about $2 per 100km to drive an electric vehicle compared with about $10 for a petrol car.  "We will be building a network at existing infrastructure such as councils, car parks, universities, car dealers and shopping centres," he says.  "They will just look like a normal parking meter and be available wherever you can park."

He says people could pay using their smart card system, via an existing credit card or over the phone.  Charging units will also be available to buy or lease for private residences and businesses.  "We don't have firm pricing on them yet, but they won't be expensive," he says.  "The advantage is you can charge off-peak and get cheaper energy. You can also sell energy back to the grid."

Grana says the company would spend ‘a lot’ over the next couple of years supplying infrastructure.  "By 2012 when the volume of electric cars are expected to arrive we will be in a position to service the market."  He says ChargePoint differed from their major competitor Better Place.

"We are sell charging stations, while Better Place has a system which is more involved with battery swap and leasing. They are also building a public network.
"I believe it is advantageous for both companies to grow as it will give drivers better coverage for charging services."

ChargePoint is in discussions with government and private sector partners for pilot projects in Perth, Sydney and Melbourne due to start early next year.  The pilot projects will be used to evaluate charging behaviour, energy grid load analysis, and environmental and social impact.

Grana says he had attended an EV (electric vehicle) conference in Brisbane this week and had discussions to extend the pilot program to the Queensland capital.  Coulomb Technologies already provides electric charging facilities in the US and Europe, Middle East and Africa.  Better Place Australia CEO Evan Thornley says their approach was two-pronged.

"We will put plug-in points in carparks at the shopping centre, at home and at work to keep cars charging up while they are parked between 20 and 22 hours a day," Thornley says. "Charge spots will keep you going most times, but when you have a long trip you will need a battery-switching station.  "We will play the role to electric vehicles that petrol stations play for petrol cars."

Better Place uses automated battery-switching technology which replaces a depleted battery with a charged battery in under one minute.  Thornley says Better Place would roll out charging points and switching stations conjointly.

He says motorists would pay a similar price to keep their electric car running as they would for a petrol car.  Better Place would have a range of payment options available such as a monthly fixed price or per-kilometre metering.

Better Places Australia is working with the Macquarie Group to raise about a billion dollars in capital for the roll-out and has formed a partnership with renewable energy provider AGL.