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Better Place expands EV charging network

Charge away: Better Place Australia CEO Evan Thornley with a charging post in Canberra.

Nine more organisations sign up for EV charging points in Canberra

General News logo27 Jul 2011

HOTELS, the airport, public buildings, housing estates and company offices are among the sites operated by 12 organisations in Canberra that have put up their hand for electric vehicle (EV) charging points in Australia’s first network roll-out by charging company Better Place.

Five plug-and-go points have already been installed in the nation’s capital, mainly to service organisations such as property developer Rock Development Group and power company ActewAGL, which already have battery-powered Mitsubishi i-MiEVs as part of a national trial.

But Better Place is set to expand the reach of the network with nine more organisations signing up for points on their properties for customers, staff and the public.

Fresh installations by Better Place for so-called ‘Foundation Members’ of its network will start in the next few weeks, and are expected to take about six months to complete.

As well, the Silicon Valley-based company’s Australian subsidiary is in the planning stages for Australia’s first battery-swap station to be built in Canberra in readiness for the arrival of Renault’s electric Fluence EV in the middle of 2012.

80 center imageLeft: Renault Fluence ZE. Below: Mitsubishi i-MiEV gets a fast-charge.

The ACT government – which is aiming for a 40 per cent greenhouse gas emissions reduction by 2020 – is one of the original members of the Canberra network, agreeing to have charging points at its offices.

Other foundation members are power company ActewAGL – with which Better Place recently signed a $60 million 10-year renewable electricity agreement – Canberra Airport, the National Convention Centre, Capital Hotel Group, CIC Australia, Crowne Plaza, Hindmarsh, Lend Lease, Rock Development Group, TransACT and the ACT Electric Vehicle Council.

Several of the companies to join the program are building developers, keen to have the latest technology in their new office, shopping centre and housing developments.

CIC Australia is installing charging points at its housing developments, with houses at the new Googong development outside Canberra all pre-wired to accept a charging point.

The public charging points will be standard 15-amp posts, designed to top up electric cars away from home.

A full charge would take up to seven hours on these level-one posts, depending on the vehicle and its battery pack. This compares with level-three high-voltage 50-amp fast-charge systems – such as one installed at Mitsubishi Motors Australia’s headquarters in South Australia – that can charge to 80 per cent capacity in just 30 minutes.

Canberra was chosen for the start of the national roll out of public charging infrastructure by Better Place because of its size and suitability for EVs. Ultimately, the roll-out will extend to other cities across Australia.

To charge their cars, EV drivers will need to subscribe to Better Place’s charging service, which will have a range of packages from simple charging capability to a complete battery swap service if the vehicle – such as the Fluence EV – is capable of such a service.

Better Place subscribers are billed at a monthly flat rate. Customers of other charging services can still use Better Place points, with Better Place offering a “back office settlement” to sort out the bill between providers.

Better Place Australia CEO Evan Thornley said the collaboration with the ACT government and leading businesses was a great example of the way the public and private sectors could work together for a common goal.

“Better Place has been actively working with three of our Foundation Members, the ACT Government, ActewAGL and Rock Development Group, for a number of years now,” he said.

“Adding nine of Canberra’s most recognisable brands to our stable of charge spot providers gives Canberra drivers the backbone of a comprehensive charge network across the ACT region which will continue to grow over time.”

Better Place pays for the installation of charging posts, but the location is up to the site owner. Existing sites include the Brindabella Business Park at Canberra Airport, Crowne Plaza Hotel and ActewAGL’s Canberra offices.

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