SF Bay Area Will be Electric Vehicle Capital of US: Better Place, Coulomb Technologies Expanding EV Infrastructure

better place charging station photo

photo: Better Place

Electric cars may not be commercially available yet in the US, and aren't expected to be widely available much before 2012, but when they are the San Francisco Bay Area will be ready.

Palo Alto-based Better Place has announced that it plans to begin setting up a network of electric car power stations in the Bay Area, to be ready by 2012. Coulomb Technologies has also announced that it will be building a network of 40 charging stations along California highways, beginning in 2009. But that's not all:Along with this, the mayors of San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland announced a nine-step policy plan which will, in the words of SF Mayor Gavin Newsom, "make the Bay Area—and eventually California—the electric vehicle capital of the US".

Better Place: Swap Out Your Batteries or Charge While You Wait
At the Better Place stations, electric car owners will be able to either swap out their run-down batteries for freshly charged ones (the process will be fully automated) or at other Charge Spot locations be able to top off their car's batteries while they shop.

The expected price tag of setting up this network: $1 billion.

better place california map

Map of Better Place's California plans, image: Better Place

More: Better Place

Coulomb Takes a Different Approach
Rather than build their own stations, Coulomb Technology says it will be working with new and existing gas stations to install their electric vehicle charging units. Initially the Campbell, Calif.-based company says it will be installing 40 at locations its CEO says it can't divulge owing to agreements with its customers. (Greentech Media)

Electric vehicle owners would be able to use these charging units under a subscription service.

The company is also setting up a demonstration project of five of the units in downtown San Jose next month.

More: Coulomb Technologies
Policy Changes to Promote Electric Vehicle Purchases, Infrastructure
The Mayors have proposed the following policy changes to help this all along:

Expedited permitting and installation of electric vehicle charging outlets at homes, business, parking lots, and other buildings throughout the Bay Area;

Incentives for employers to install EV charging systems in their workplace and provide similar incentives to parking facilities and other locations where EV charging stations can be installed;

Harmonize local regulations and standards across the region that govern EV infrastructure to achieve regulatory consistency for EV companies as well as expanded range for EV consumers;

Establish common government programs that promote the purchase of EVs;

Link EV programs and infrastructure to regional transit and air quality programs;

Establish programs for aggressive pooled-purchase orders for EVs in municipal, state government and private sector fleets and future commitment of purchasing preference for EV vehicles;

Expedited permitting and approval for facilities that provide extended-range driving capability for EVs in the region through battery exchange locations or fast-charging;

Identify and secure suitable standard (110V) electric outlets for charging low voltage EVs in every government building in 2009; and

Identify roll-out plan for placement of 220V EV charging equipment throughout each city including city
parking lots and curbside parking. (SF Mayor's Office)

Electric Vehicles
17 Electric Cars You Must Know About
World's First Plug-In Electric Car Goes On Sale Next Month -- in China
Electric Mini Field Trial Applications Open: 500 People Will Participate
Project Better Place Looks to Bring Electric Cars to Portugal

Related Content on Treehugger.com