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San Francisco Plans To Be Electric Car Capital Share on Facebook
San Francisco Bay Area cities promised to build the electric car capital of the United States, announcing a plan Thursday to work with start-up Better Place to put battery-powered autos on the road in 2012.

by Reuters - Monday, 24 November 2008

Mayors of San Francisco, Silicon Valley capital San Jose, Oakland and other cities in the region said they would offer incentives and standardize infrastructure with Better Place, a start-up that aims to offer electric cars as a service, like a cell phone, at prices similar or below standard cars.

The San Francisco Bay Area has the reputation as one of the most liberal and environmentally active parts of the country, and as the economic downturn sweeps through the tech sector it is looking to clean technology for a new source of jobs.

"I'm a guy driving a hybrid, and I don't feel particularly good about it," San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom told a news conference, adding that all-electric cars would be a "game-changer" for cutting carbon emissions which cause global warming.

Nissan Motor Co. Ltd and Renault have signed on with other Better Place projects. Better Place is developing networks in Denmark, Israel, and Australia.

Better Place Chief Executive Shai Agassi in an interview said the network to support the cars with charging stations would cost about $1 billion with a quarter of that needed for a test phase in 2010-2011.

"We've got a year-and-a-half to bring the capital in," he said, acknowledging the tough economic environment and arguing that the network would be a good investment.

He told reporters that he hoped the US "Big Three" automakers, GM, Ford Motor Co and Chrysler, would join the plan.


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The city of San Jose, California, will be the first to test electric-car charging stations from start-up Coulomb Technologies.

The company's products include 110-volt outlets that can be outfitted in public and mounted on poles, such as streetlights.

Coulomb is designing ChargePoint Network stations to scale to the national level, with a projected need of two stations per car, as electricity-powered vehicles become popular. Each Smartlet station would cost between US$1,000 and US$2,000 for a business or municipality to set up.

The company aims to demonstrate its technology on a Saturn Vue plug-in hybrid at the Plug-In 2008 conference in San Jose.

"We're listening to automakers, and we're laying out the infrastructure to help them succeed," said Richard Lowenthal, Coulomb's CEO. The former mayor of Cupertino, Calif., is on the waiting list for a Tesla electric Roadster.
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