In keeping with its progressive reputation, San Francisco is looking to pave the way for widespread electric vehicle adoption in the US. A Palo-Alto start-up called "Better Place" has received the green light from all three of the Bay Area's big city mayors to begin carrying out an ambitious plan to build a network of 250,000 charging ports, 200 battery-exchange stations and a control centre that keeps the system running smoothly. And if that wasn't enough, they hope to have the entire thing up and running by 2012.
Naturally, a project this vast isn't going to be cheap—$US1 billion is a lot of money to burden the taxpayers with. Fortunately, that won't be a problem because the project will be funded with an incentive plan directed at companies who install the chargers. Building permits will also be expedited to help move things along. Better Place will also be working with Renault-Nissan to distribute electric vehicles in "much the way telecoms distribute mobile phones. Customers will subscribe to drive a certain number of miles and get an electric vehicle at a discounted price. Better Place will own the battery."
Better Place already has similar systems in the works for parts of Europe, but getting a foothold in the US will be their biggest challenge. As San Francisco mayor-extraordinaire Gavin Newsom put it, the goal is to "make the Bay Area—and eventually California—the electric vehicle capital of the US". [Better Place via Mercury News via Treehugger via DVICE]