Australia Building Huge Electric Car Grid: 600,000+ Stations By 2012

Apparently not content with just one giant ongoing infrastructure project, Australia has committed to fully outfitting three of its biggest cities for widespread electric car use. In hardware terms, that amounts to 200,000-250,000 charging stations each for Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, with an additional 150 battery swap stations scattered between them. The effort will cost $1bn in Australian Dingo Dollars, which is about $667m USD. If that's not ambitious enough for you, consider this: it should be online in three years.

Granted, most of these 'stations' will just be small, designated sockets clamped on to existing lines at homes, businesses and parking lots, and the battery swap stations will essentially trade your batteries the same way that Ace Hardware does your propane tanks. But even if the technology is kind of trivial, the fact remains that a significant part of Australia's population will soon have a ubiquitous infrastructure for electric cars.

The Australian government is currently encouraging domestic automakers to answer the anticipated demand for electric vehicles, because, well, there are about two right now. There is, however, a suspicious aspect to this plan: the government is suggesting mobile phone-like contracts as a method of charging for the juice, which sounds like about as good an idea as Kangaroo Jack IV. [AP via Slashdot]