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 U.S.’ 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 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.

Hawaii is joining in too.