Roll-out of Electric Car Rechargers to Begin in 2011

CANBERRA, Australia 24 July 2009: Better Place Australia, the leading electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure and services provider today announced that it has chosen the nation’s capital, Canberra, as the site of its first city-wide roll-out of electric vehicle infrastructure in Australia. 

The decision was announced by Better Place founder and Chief Executive Officer, Shai Agassi, with Evan Thornley, head of Better Place Australia and ActewAGL Chief Executive Officer, Michael Costello, the ACT’s electricity retailer and distributor.
“Canberra is a great city to start deploying our vision of zero-emissions mobility. Canberra has a mobile population that demands a viable alternative to allow for both short commutes and longer trips” said Mr Agassi. “There’s proven demand for EVs in Australia and the people of Canberra are ready for a more sustainable future. That future is electric.”
The initial roll out will involve an investment by Better Place, which will go towards building out the infrastructure, services and systems to support the first several hundred electric vehicles in Canberra. The investment will cover:
•    safe and completely recyclable lithium-ion batteries that will power the electric vehicles and be provided as part of the service to drivers, reducing the up-front costs of purchasing an electric vehicle;
•   charge spots in homes, offices, shopping centres and other car parks where drivers can plug in to keep their battery fully charged; and
•   “Battery Swap Stations” where motorists can simply drive in and have a depleted battery automatically exchanged for a fresh, fully charged one.
“We aim to start construction on our charge spots and battery swap stations in 2011 and start supporting customers in 2012” said Mr Thornley. “From Canberra we will then begin to roll out across the whole country.”
Better Place will work closely with ActewAGL to plan the infrastructure deployment. “A significant influence on our decision to choose Canberra was the enthusiasm and support we have received from Michael Costello and his team at ActewAGL” said Evan Thornley, Chief Executive Officer of Better Place Australia.
ActewAGL will be responsible for sourcing and distributing the renewable energy that Better Place will use to power its electric vehicles within the ACT. “It’s important that we work together closely so that we can be sure we have the right levels of power available in the car parks and similar locations where the electric vehicles will be charging” said ActewAGL Chief Executive Officer, Michael Costello.  “But this is a great opportunity for Canberra to make a huge dent on its greenhouse gas emissions, so we’re very keen to co-operate to help make it a reality.”
For further information on Better Place’s plans for Australia please visit


30 Responses to Roll-out of Electric Car Rechargers to Begin in 2011

  1. janama July 25, 2009 at 10:01 am #

    Surely the major petrol outlets will add electric recharge or swap the moment the demand is realised. These guys are dreaming.

  2. Alan July 25, 2009 at 10:54 am #

    They lost me at “safe” and “recyclable”. I’m not interested in what it costs or whether it is convenient or dolphin-safe. It’s run by a bunch of greeny leftards and that’s bad enough for me.

  3. kae July 25, 2009 at 12:25 pm #

    er, where is the electricity coming from to charge these cars?

    Plugged into the mains?

    Emission free?


  4. Joe July 25, 2009 at 12:52 pm #

    Better Place’s battery swapping scheme is a bad solution, because it moves the possible economic benefits of the electric cars to the big companies and governments. If the drivers will get nothing, they will continue to choose petrol.

    Nissan’s solution of easy charging everywhere combined with MIT’s promise of filling the batteries in 10 minutes looks much better.

  5. janama July 25, 2009 at 1:34 pm #

    The Teslar Model S claims 300 mile (482km) and 45 min recharge.

  6. Eyrie July 25, 2009 at 3:19 pm #

    When you do the numbers electric cars cost around 3 times as much per kilometer to drive.

  7. janama July 25, 2009 at 3:25 pm #

    care to show us the numbers?

    We are currently distributing energy around via the grid as it is, no upgrade needed , it surely keeps the emissions in one place where it can be controlled.

    I’d be interested in what figures you have.

  8. wes george July 25, 2009 at 5:26 pm #

    Hey, people, think outside the box, even if it only puts you in the box next door or an electric taxi circa 1910 in NYC. Whatever. We learn by taking risks and making mistakes.

    Good on them. Time will tell. (just hope we aren’t subsidizing them with tax payer funding.) Free markets rock.

    Don’t allow your skepticism to petrify into the kind of groupthink this whole site is dedicated to erode.

    I hate conformity.

  9. Paul Biggs July 25, 2009 at 11:45 pm #

    Will Lithium run out long before oil. ‘Peak Lithium’ LOL!

    What is going to power our cars?

    With oil supplies a continuing concern, focus is switching to lithium for electric vehicles. But debate rages about how much of it is available

  10. Charlie July 26, 2009 at 2:08 am #

    # Eyrie July 25th, 2009 at 3:19 pm: “When you do the numbers electric cars cost around 3 times as much per kilometer to drive.
    # Comment from: janama July 25th, 2009 at 3:25 pm: “care to show us the numbers?”

    I’m not Eyrie, but the calculations are pretty basic. The key thing is whether you look at TOTAL cost of ownership and operation, or simply the MARGINAL cost per km.

    Just like with a normal petrol powered car, the difference between those two figures is primarily the purchase price divided by the total km driven in the lifetime of the car.

    Some typical US numbers: US$ 40,000 purchase price, allocated over a 15 year lifespan with 100,000m/160,000km driven, then you are looking at USD 0.40 per mile or about USD 0.25 per km.

  11. Louis Hissink July 26, 2009 at 6:28 am #


    Might be worth while checking up on the recent BP Oil comments that globally we have been finding more oil, and that some countries were publishing record production figures, but their reserves were not reported as showing depletion.

    Oil aint fossil fuel folks, it comes from the mantle and those dodgy reserve numbers simply means that those oil fields might be showing signs of replenishment.

    Remember one thing, Big Oil only controls 4% of the oil reserves of the Earth, governments control the rest. Big Big Oil is Big Big Government, but you would never read it in your newspaper or on the mainstream net presence.

  12. Loulis Hissink July 26, 2009 at 6:37 am #

    Lithium? Hah hah, and we are unlikely to run out of oil soon – just study the latest BP assessment of the global oil situation, we are finding more and more oil, and some countries are reporting record produoction levels but their oil reserves are not being reported as showing depletion.


    The oil comes up from the Earth’s mantle, it’s the basis of our carbon based existence. I suspect without oil, life, as we know it, would not exist on the Earth’s surface.

    And if it’s going to be an electric world, why so much opposition to the ideas of the electric universe?

    Just remember folks that Big Oil only controls 4% of the Earth’s oil reserves, Government controls the rest. One of those inconvenient facts, as they say.

  13. Eyrie July 26, 2009 at 7:52 am #


    It is in the capital cost of batteries that electric cars fail economically.

    Prices in US dollars but petrol prices are Australian equivalent.

    Take your Tesla Roadster (this even ignores its vast acquisition cost) where they’ll sell you a new set of batteries for US$12000 after 3 years if you pay for them when you buy the car.(US$30,000 if you buy them after 3 years.)

    Say you drive 15000 km a year and get 8l/100km that’s 1200 litres of petrol which will cost you say US$1200 at current Australian prices. 4000/1200 is 3.34 roughly. This is without paying for the recharging electricity even. This assumes the batteries last for 3 years even. How are your laptop batteries? The Tesla uses laptop batteries and my experience is that around 3 years is about it before capacity is substantially reduced even when not charged/discharged very often.

    I’ve also done similar numbers for the Hyundai Getz that is available in Australia as a conversion (A A$40,000 used Getz)and again you come out at 3 and a bit times as expensive at least.

    Even if you lease the batteries somebody has to eat these costs.

    I wish Elon Musk hadn’t started Tesla. He’s got a nice private space program that is doing well and this will likely be far more important in the long run.

    AFAIK there is just one Tesla Roadster in Australia. They aren’t normally for sale here. A personal contact by the owner of an ISP got him one which he air freighted from California and is using to push the green credentials of his business.
    I talked to a couple of 747 freighter captains recently. Roughly 2 tons of fuel for every ton of airfreight across the Pacific. Could drive the car for about 45000 km with that amount of hydrocarbon fuel. LOL!

  14. Marcus July 26, 2009 at 8:59 am #

    “Surely the major petrol outlets will add electric recharge or swap the moment the demand is realised. These guys are dreaming.”

    I’m sure you are right janama, they are dreaming of hefty gov. subsidies and where else better to start then Canberra.

    I have nothing against electric cars, apart from the cost of buying and, I am sure, if there is a demand for change over batteries or charging points, the service stations will provide in a jiffy.

    Just the same as when they are putting in LPG browsers on demand.

    No need for spacialised “electric car” companies.

  15. JA July 26, 2009 at 1:03 pm #

    I can’t wait – once global demand for diesel / petrol drops as a result of the electric car fiasco, the price of oil will plummet and my existing guzzlers will be economical to run again.

  16. janama July 26, 2009 at 1:34 pm #

    Eyrie – the Teslar site says their batteries last for 5 years or 100,000 mile (160,000km) whichever comes first.

  17. janama July 26, 2009 at 1:40 pm #

    BTW – you must include service and maintenance in the costs – how often have you had repair costs for the electric motor in your fridge, washing machine etc ??

    I believe that is one of the major factors inhibiting the progression to electric cars – currently the Ford, GMs Toyotas etc make more on the service costs after a sale than the sale itself. You must wear their service costs or the warrants are lost.

  18. Eyrie July 26, 2009 at 5:25 pm #


    If the batteries are good for 5 years why the 3 year replacement deal? I’ll believe it when I see it. The batteries in the Tesla are plain ordinary laptop batteries, perhaps those here can tell us how long they last at near original capacity and don’t forget they are likely in a more benign environment than in a car.

    As for servicing costs that sounds good at first but the only thing you don’t have to service is the engine. The Tesla car has gearbox, brakes, steering, suspension, shocks, lights, A/C, tyres, wheel bearings etc many of which are likely higher loaded due to the mass of batteries being carted around. It also has sophisticated on board battery management systems and maybe some battery cells need replacement etc. In exchange for a few oil and air filters and some oil. Still sound like a great deal?

    What car do you drive? Modern IC cars really don’t need unscheduled maintenance. If yours does, buy a Honda.

    There are two things inhibiting the move to electric cars – their cost and lack of range. When you do things like the Aptera by building lightweight bodies with great aerodynamics you find that an IC version would get great mileage and still be cheaper. Much the same applies to the present research push for small electric aircraft. Don’t get me wrong. I love the idea of electric cars but they don’t stack up for the mass market yet.

  19. Marcus July 26, 2009 at 7:06 pm #

    “laptop batteries how long they last at near original capacity’

    I had three laptops, since the LI-IO batteries came on the market and one before,
    The lithium ones are definitely longer lasting but so far none of them lasted three years.
    The latest one is an ASus brand, it only made it to 18 months, (fair enough it has a really big screen with all the bells and whistles) The cost of this replacement battery was over a $150.00.

    I’m talking about total failure in practical terms here, that is, the laptop would only run for a few minutes on batteries.

    Not sure how the charge-discharge regime in a car would effect them?

  20. janama July 26, 2009 at 7:07 pm #

    Com’ on – to compare your Honda to a Teslar is ridiculous – the Teslar Roadster is State of the art – kevlar body designed by Ferrari, 0 – 60 in 4.6sec etc. It’s high priced to pay for the extensive development costs.

    But not too far into the future every car will be a version of it because it’s more efficient and cleaner to generate the power under controlled conditions and send it down wires to the consumer. I’d sure like to live in a society where cars were quiet and produced no

    The next major breakthrough will be wireless power transmission. Your laptop won’t need batteries, and your toaster and LCD TV won’t need a power cable, so it naturally follows that eventually, neither will your car.

    Louis and I won’t see it but hey, Louis – you reckon we’ve just been tickling the udder of the oil cow? Stimulating the oil glands?

  21. Marcus July 26, 2009 at 7:23 pm #

    “wireless power transmission”

    Good luck with that!

    Will Never happen!

    Think of the minuscule power of a mobile phone and the claims of damage!
    Or for that matter the claims about the high voltage power lines!

    I can just hear the uproar!

  22. Louis Hissink July 27, 2009 at 5:55 am #


    It’s quite likely we are sitting on top of an almost limitless, for us, supply of hydrocarbon, but whether the realisation occurs in out lifetime, that is moot.

    The most indiscreet commentary over oil spillage was made by Bjorn Lomborg in his book “The Sketical Environmentalist” when he pointed out that the Exxon Valdez spill was q uickly absorbed by natural processes. Remember the Torey Canyon spill off the UK? And the other frequent ones elsewhere?

    Much media and eco screaming when it happens, but after the hubbub dies, and one goes back, “what oil”? Where is it.

  23. Louis oost.Hissink July 27, 2009 at 6:02 am #

    Electric cars – all for it – this will give the mining industry a tremendous boost. All electric engines need copper wire, plus all the copper needed for the bus-bars to route the electric current.

    Batteries – basically storage of energy – more lead mines – and lithium?

    But isn’t the whole reason for the environmental movement’s existence the destruction of the mining industry, whether petroleum, or minerals?

    So they want their electric cars, or sustainable energy systems which have to be based on electricity, but don’t want to mine the raw materals to make this happen.

    Figure out why protons spin and you might have an idea where to harness a new source of energy.

  24. Eyrie July 27, 2009 at 8:01 am #

    Thanks, Marcus. My experience of laptop batteries is slightly better but after 3 years they are seriously down in capacity. This isn’t due to lack of sophistication in the charging circuit either, its just as good as what is in the Tesla car. You need to do this with Li-ion batteries otherwise you can have a fire on your hands.

    You are right about wireless power transmission. There is a proposal for Satellite Solar Power which collects sunlight on orbit and beams it to earth as microwaves to be collected by rectenna farms (rectify and receive antennas). I really like the idea as to do it properly it comes with routine space access, moon mining and humans become a spacefaring species. The microwaves are quite low power density as the receivers are low cost and can be spread out over many square kilometers with precluding that land from other uses. This is also a way to get solar baseload electricity.
    “Killer beams from outer space” is how this has been characterised. Great.

    Janama, the Tesla Roadster is basically an electric version of the Lotus Elise. The Elise weighs 860Kg, the Tesla 1238Kg. You save a little weight on the electric drive train but more than pay for that in the huge mass of batteries. Yes there are claims that not much of the Elise remains but I’m not surprised as steering, suspension, brakes, tyres, wheel bearings and structure have to be upgraded to deal with the extra mass. Wishes are all very well but this is engineering.

  25. janama July 27, 2009 at 9:08 pm #

    I was refering to just a few meters – which is what they’ve achieved so far. No doubt they’ll get it sorted out and your future household items will have no power cords.

    regarding the Telsar – I just happen to like their idea because they went the whole hog, not just a hybrid – like Toyota. the financial return will allow them to research further and they’ll no doubt come up with a serious, reliable electrical storage system. It’s private enterprise in full flight.

  26. Henry chance July 28, 2009 at 4:16 am #

    What to do with peak lithium.
    I suspect you will have no choice but to pop a lithium tablet while waiting with 300 other autos for your 2 hour rapid charge.

    The average petrol fill time can be in terms of minutes. Then you leave. In the case of electric, you will be parked a long time. This will take a lot of parking area next to roadways which is not inexpensive.

  27. Eyrie July 28, 2009 at 8:13 am #


    Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla is a really smart guy. He’s also a tax farmer. Because of the Roadster he’s up for several hundred million in government loans to develop the sedan. Likewise he’s already got US government money supporting his private space program because of NASA’s COTS program to deliver cargo to the ISS. Well, somebody has to do it as NASA is incapable.

    “It’s private enterprise in full flight.” You must have a different definition of private enterprise.

    After quite a few years now the best batteries he could come up with are laptop cells. Over 6000 of them in the roadster. There has been a huge amount of effort to make better batteries over the last 30 years or so. Going to lithium chemistry was a great advance. There aren’t any new chemistries that look good. Using 6000+ cells in a battery pack loses about half of the advantage of lithium chemistry in the packaging.

  28. Rob July 29, 2009 at 1:49 am #

    Fancy sitting in front of almost 1/2 ton of battery pack in a lightwieght alluminium car.

  29. Eyrie July 29, 2009 at 7:38 am #

    via Instapundit a test of the Tesla Roadster:

  30. Herman Dobrowolski July 30, 2009 at 7:22 am #

    You are all missing the obvious:

    Rudd’s ETS will kill conventional power stations. His stupid ideological dream of unreliable and overpriced wind/solar power will not amount to anything.

    Charging electricity prices in proportion to power draft will kill any mass move to electric cars.

    Electric cars are just a red herring to make us fall into this trap.

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