Better Place partners with Ontario to bring EV infrastracture to Toronto

The province of Ontario has announced plans to partner with Palo Alto, California-based Better Place to build a network of electric vehicle recharging stations scattered around the Toronto metropolitan area. The province follows in the footsteps of Israel, Denmark and Australia by announcing plans to develop an infrastructure based around the promise of electric cars.

The program will consist of charging stations that are largely geared toward vehicles capable of so-called rapid charging. Although no such car is currently on the market, there are many promising technologies, including ultracapacitors and new types of batteries, both of which could be charged in 10 or 15 minutes by a high voltage connection. This compares to a 4 to 8 hour charge time from a home outlet.

"With today's announcement, Ontario is taking a system-wide approach to retooling its economy for growth and environmental leadership," Shai Agassi, CEO of Better Place said in a statement.

"Our partnership will move Ontario toward a new era in personal transportation - from the current Car 1.0 model centered on the internal combustion engine to a Car 2.0 model of electric cars powered by renewable energy," Agassi added.

Better Place says it will announce more details when it concludes a study of the province in May. The Toronto Star reported last summer that Better Place said it was willing to invest up to $150 million into Toronto's infrastructure to set up a grid operator capable of handling about 100,000 electric cars.

Better Place intends to sell electricity plans to plug-in EV users in order to make a profit. The program would be run much like mobile phone service in that users could "subscribe" to a certain number of recharges or kilowatt hours.

Late last year, Better Place and the Israeli government announced a more extensive initiative that, the two organizations hope, will see the entire country covered in an electric grid full of recharging stations. The Toronto effort is smaller in scope, but it is still expected to be the among the largest such programs in North America. Better Place and the San Francisco Bay area recently announced plans for a $1 billion network to be developed in and around San Francisco.