Credit: Better Place

(Hello to Ed Herderick, one of our new bloggers. Ed is working on his PhD in material sciences at The Ohio State University. His focus is on nanowire synthesis, characterization, and properties measurements, and if you ever want to yack with someone about the functional properties of oxides including gas sensing, piezoelectric, and ferroelectric properties- he’s your man.)

Plans for building the infrastructure necessary to realize widespread use of electric cars received a boost recently, after the mayors of San Jose, Oakland, and San Francisco endorsed a plan by Better Place, a start-up based in Palo Alto. It’s an ambitious $1 billion plan to make the Bay Area the US’ electric car capital by building 250,000 charging ports, 200 battery-exchange stations, and a control center by 2012. Better Place has already organized similar plans in Israel, Denmark, and Australia.

The approach by the company is interesting in that they will allow consumers to buy the miles that they will drive the cars, while the cars themselves will be available for purchase at a reduced price, much like current cell phone plans. The company will then own the batteries. Charging of the batteries could be done on the street at simple plug-in outlets or used batteries could be swapped for charged ones at a station similar to a gas station.

Better Place has already raised $200 million in venture capital since its inception in 2007, so even though the plan is audacious in its scope it does have solid investor backing. If this vision can be realized then this will be a boon for the battery manufacturers and will lead to many fertile areas of study for ceramic engineers interested in battery technologies and manufacturing.

Update: Hawaii is in too.

Later update: Friedman cheers for Better Place.

First Better Place plug-in parking lot (Israel). Credit: Better Place

First Better Place plug-in parking lot (Israel). Credit: Better Place

Bonus video illustrating Better Place system:

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