Consumer Energy Report is now Energy Trends Insider -- Read More »

By Samuel R. Avro on Jan 21, 2009 with no responses

Comprehensive Electric Car Infrastructure Coming to Ontario


The Canadian province of Ontario is making strides toward reducing their dependence on petroleum by partnering with a California-based company to install electric-car charging stations and battery swapping sites across the province.

“I think it’s fitting that we’re looking at the next phase in the history of the car right here in Ontario,” Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty said. “Ontario should be home to the first truly green car. Well today, we’re taking one step to get us a little bit closer.”

The company which will operate the battery stations, Better Place, is already extensively involved in electric vehicle projects in the United States, Australia, Denmark and Israel. It’s their first foray into the Canadian market, but the company has high hopes as they’re planning to set up a Canadian subsidiary and build an electric car demonstration center in Toronto.

The plan calls would give consumers the option of exchanging their depleted batteries at the company’s stations or recharging them at homes, businesses or parking lots equipped with the company’s “power spots.”

The company website says that electric cars need three things:

  • Recharging spots.
  • Battery switching stations.
  • Software that automates the process.

According to the company, their process would be so smooth that pulling into one of their stations to swap batteries would be faster than filling up a tank of gas.

Young people are a key target. “What you’ll see are a thousand high school students coming in and driving an electric car,” said Better Place CEO Shai Agassi. “I can guarantee you one thing. Once a high school student drives an electric car, their first car is not going to go on gasoline.”

The construction of the project is expected to take 3 years.

Mr. Agassi’s main theory is that electric vehicles should be run on the same market conditions as gas-powered vehicles. Just like no one purchases 10 years of gasoline when buying a car, the same theory should hold true with electric cars.

This would take care of the chief obstacle in convincing consumers to make the changeover from gas to electric. Batteries for an electric car can cost about $8,000 which can price the concept out of the market for most everyday consumers.

However, the Better Place plan calls for the automakers to sell just the car and not the battery. Purchasing electricity would be much the same as buying cellphone minutes, said Mr. Agassi.