Charge it: electric cars fill up at the markets

on Monday, 01 November 2010. Posted in news

The Canberra Times 29 October 2010

By Christopher Knaus

Australia’s first public recharge point for electric cars has been unveiled in Canberra, heralding a first step in the creation of a national infrastructure and service network for electric vehicles.

The public charge spot, which has been installed at Belconnen Fresh Food Markets by private firm Better Place Australia, will allow drivers to recharge their cars using a system resembling a petrol pump.

Users pay for the electricity by subscribing to a Better Place service and access the charge point using a swipe-card.

The unveiling could prove a momentous step in Australia’s transition to electric cars, with a lack of public electric car recharge options seen as a key factor hindering the vehicle’s ability to travel long distances.

Canberra was chosen as the first city in the national roll-out of Better Place’s electric car network, and the company expects construction to begin in earnest late next year.
The company will build about 1000 recharge points across Canberra to cater for fixed-battery electric vehicle models.

These recharge points will be supplemented by battery-switch stations, where battery-switchable car models can have fresh batteries installed within minutes in a facility similar to an automated car wash.

Better Place’s head of deployment Geoff Zippel said that a public recharge network would help to overcome one of the key criticisms levelled against electric vehicles.

“One of the questions we always get asked is, ‘Are they range limited?’ “ he said.
“The reality is, for most people, their journey time, or the distance they drive each day, is way below the capacity of the car.

“But to overcome that anxiety and to let people actually travel a long way further, this type of infrastructure and the battery-switch says you can drive your electric car not only around the ACT, but to Sydney.”

The first customer to sign up for Better Place’s recharge point in Belconnen was the sustainable property development company, Rock Development Group.

It is completing a $130 million redevelopment of Belconnen Fresh Food Markets, and will use the newly-installed charge point for its Mitsubishi i-MiEV company electric car.

Rock Development Group Director Maria Efkarpidis said yesterday, “For our company, this is very important, this is what we believe in and this is what our dreams are.

“We thought, what a great way to show that we are sustainable and that we believe in all of these things, to be a part of it and be the first to have it in our market place.”

Rock Development is planning on installing the charge points across the Belconnen markets precinct as a part of its general redevelopment.

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