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SF Bay Area Mayors Announce Coordinated Policies to Accelerate Establishment of EV Infrastructure; Better Place to Enter US Market in California

Better Place introduced a second EV prototype to work with its infrastructure: the Better Place Rogue, based on the Nissan Rogue crossover SUV. Click to enlarge.

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums announced a nine-point policy plan to establish a pervasive infrastructure to transform the SF Bay Area into the “Electric Vehicle (EV) Capital of the US”. In conjunction with the news, Better Place announced that it would enter the US market with California as its first state, beginning in the Bay Area.

Commercial availability of electric cars is targeted to begin in 2012, and Better Place estimates its network investment in the Bay Area will total $1 billion when the system is fully deployed. The three Mayors said they welcomed Better Place’s announcement and anticipate many other EV companies will focus on the Bay Area as a top-priority market.

Our aim is to make the Bay Area—and eventually California—the electric vehicle capital of the US.

—San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom

Joined by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s special advisor David Crane, the Mayors said that they would take action beginning in December to work with the region’s cities, counties, regional governmental organizations and private sector partners to position the region’s economic and environmental future around electric transportation.

The Mayors’ nine-step program includes:

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

  2. 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;

  3. 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;

  4. Establish common government programs that promote the purchase of EVs;

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

  6. 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;

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

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

  9. Identify roll-out plan for placement of 220V EV charging equipment throughout each city including city parking lots and curbside parking.

The Mayors said they will work with other cities throughout the region, regional government organizations such as the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and Association of Bay Area Governments, as well as many private sector partners, including the members of the Bay Area Council and Silicon Valley Leadership Group.

Britta Gross, GM Manager of Hydrogen and Electrical Infrastructure Coordination, who has been leading the automaker’s efforts with utilities and municipalities to promote those types of policies to support the growth of a market for plug-ins, and who was in attendance at the San Francisco announcement, welcomed the Mayors’ initiative.

GM currently has efforts underway with 40 utilities in the US and Canada, in cooperation with EPRI, and municipalities to encourage the development of elements such as offpeak rates, residential infrastructure upgrades, smooth permitting for charging infrastructure, incentives for EV purchases and consumer education as necessary components of plug-in readiness to grow the market for electric vehicles. “A public charging infrastructure alone isn’t enough,” she said.

Better Place Comes to California
The Better Place map for California. The shaded circles indicate the coverage by charge spots; the blue battery switching stations are for longer trips. Click to enlarge.

Better Place said that it will work a similar infrastructure investment model in California as it has in Israel, Denmark and Australia. Network planning and permitting will begin in January 2009 with infrastructure deployment beginning in 2010. The Better Place model is an open network model built on industry standards, allowing for both fixed battery and battery-exchange electric vehicles to operate on the network. (Earlier post.)

While we expect oil prices to remain low in the short term, we believe this environment creates an even more profitable window of opportunity over the long term to invest in green infrastructure projects like Better Place before oil returns to historic highs. We fundamentally believe that the entire auto industry will switch to electric cars when the environmental cost of producing polluting gas cars has an even greater impact on their bottom line.

—Idan Ofer, Chairman of Better Place and Chairman of Israel Corp.

(Israel Corp. has a joint venture with Chinese automobile manufacturer Chery Corp., and a stake in lithium-ion battery maker A123Systems. Earlier post.)

The Better Place network infrastructure consists of three primary components:

  • Charge spots. These are to keep the batteries topped off with power so that they always have 100 miles of driving capacity, according to the company. Better Place is planning a 2.5:1 ratio of charge spots to cars.

  • Battery exchange stations. For trips longer than 100 miles (161 km), Better Place plans to build roadside battery exchange stations. Stations are to be completely automated, and the driver’s subscription takes care of everything. The driver pulls in, and the depleted battery is replaced with a fresh one, without anyone having to leave the vehicle. The process is supposed to take less time than it does to fill a tank of liquid fuel, according to the plan.

  • Software to automate the charging and exchange process.

Better Place also introduced a second prototype electric vehicle based on the Nissan Rogue crossover SUV: the Better Place Rogue. This joins the Renault Megane as prototypes working with the Better Place infrastructure. The Renault-Nissan Alliance is partnering with Better Place in its ventures. (Earlier post.)

The San Francisco Bay Area population totals more than seven million people with five million cars. It has a three-city anchor layout (San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose), with suburbs spread out 30 to 40 miles, linked via a limited set off main highways. Bay Area greenhouse gas emissions total 85.4 million tons per year of CO2 equivalent gases; transportation accounts for 51% of annual greenhouse gas emissions in the Bay Area.

Coulomb Technologies Targeting Smart Charging Infrastructure Base for Service Stations in California

Separately, Coulomb Technologies announced that it will provide the first smart charging infrastructure installation base for new and existing alterative fueling stations within California for extended range electric vehicles (EREV), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and all battery electric vehicles (BEVs).

Largely powered by solar electric panels, these new and existing alternative fueling stations will sell several types of alternative fuel including ethanol and biodiesel in addition to gasoline. These stations will now include Coulomb Smartlet Networked Charging Stations that address the need for fuel in electric vehicles. (Earlier post.)

With dozens of charging station installations and activations scheduled within Q1 2009, the service stations will be located in key metropolitan areas and along the corridors of highways 99 and 101, and Interstate 5 in California with plans to install and activate hundreds more throughout California in 2009.

Coulomb Technologies offers the ChargePoint Network, a family of products and services that provide a smart charging infrastructure for plug-in vehicles. At the edge of the ChargePoint Network are Smartlet Networked Charging Stations that will be located in each service station. Each Smartlet Charging Station is individually controlled through the wireless Smartlet Communications Network and the ChargePoint Network Operating System to provide authentication, usage monitoring and real-time control. Consumers subscribe to the ChargePoint Network and receive an RFID access key that allows them to charge their car at any Smartlet Charging Station.



As a Sacramento resident I feel they completely failed with their planned battery exchange locations. Take for instance a trip from Sacramento to San Francisco, an 80 mile trip. Once you're in San Francisco the nearest battery exchange location is in what looks to be Santa Rosa, another 50 miles north. I guess they expect you'll find some place to charge in San Francisco and be able to wait hours for it to charge. Would it really be that hard to put battery exchange stations in city centers, since that usually is the travel destination?

Jeff Baker

Solar Panels and Paint on Plug-In EVs to Boost V2G Two Way Charging

The “state of the art” electric vehicle charging system will include V2G: Vehicle to Grid capability. A two-way system that will enable you to feed excess power from your vehicle into the local grid for energy credits, in addition to charging your vehicle when needed.

One of the first mainstream production vehicles with a Solar Roof Panel will be the next generation Toyota Prius due out next Spring. Plug-in hybrids and EVs equipped with solar roof panels will soon follow. Nissan, VW and numerous other carmakers will offer solar panels on their vehicles also. The early mainstream electric vehicles will initially be like Henry Ford’s Model A, compared to what they will become, with the right combination of break-through components that are in the works.

One solar roof panel will only provide a small percentage of the power that todays electric vehicles require. At 20% efficiency (Suniva, Day4 Energy), a solar roof panel could generate up to 270 watts. The panel will be optional and cost under $900. Keep in mind, the cost of solar panels will come down, and the efficiency will go up. Already, there are cheaper and more efficient solar panels being announced. The SunFlake panel, invented by Martin Aagesen who is a PhD from the Nano-Science Center and the Niels Bohr Institute at University of Copenhagen, gets 30% efficiency and will be cheaper than current panels. Innovalight claims they have a solar panel that is 44% efficient at one tenth the cost. NanoSolar and others also look promising. At the rate that solar technology is advancing, solar roof panels on vehicles will soon be over 500 watts.

The next technology, coming within 3 to 5 years, is SOLAR PAINT, that will generate solarvoltaic power from the entire body of the vehicle. When the body is covered with solar paint, that has the potential to provide three times the surface area of a first generation solar roof panel. This will triple the generating power of your vehicle to 1,500 watts, more or less, depending on the angle of the sun, weather conditions, and the amount of light reflecting onto the body. Window tinting will also be replaced by translucent solarvoltaic film.

Recently, Toyota described its 1/X Concept vehicle, a plug-in hybrid about the size of a Prius, but ONE THIRD the weight, only 926 lbs. With a vehicle that is one third the weight, the mileage DOUBLES from the same wattage. Quantum Sphere announced a breakthrough in their lithium ion batteries that produces FOUR TIMES the capacity from the same size cell. Ultra-capacitors may also be combined with batteries, or one day overpower them. Another breakthrough is an electric motor that uses HALF the amount of energy to perform the same amount of work. With this new electric motor, the mileage DOUBLES again. Search: Thor Power: Revolutionary Electric Motor Design Cuts Energy Use in Half (there are others).

And with that 1,500 watts of solar power, we will Not be powering the vehicle motor. We will be powering a generator to Pulse Charge a cluster of individual batteries in rapid succession, many times per second. Search John Bedini and Energenx battery charger. This is a motor-generator with a pulse width modulator charging multiple batteries simultaneously. Scientist Tom Bearden explains that when a battery is pulse charged, there is an “electro-chemical lag” between pulses, and it continues to charge for a split second, even after the current is briefly switched off. Then, with the power still off, a second line of current flows out of the battery briefly, if there is a load on it. The next pulse charge is carefully timed to first allow these second and third responses. Thus, with solar electricity being precisely distributed, it may also be possible to plug-in and feed power into the grid or to operate the vehicle, while the batteries are also being charged.

A large percentage of the coming electric and plug in hybrid vehicles will be charged at night, when the rates are low, then driven to work and parked all day. If you live in a sunny location, the big pay-off will be V2G (vehicle to grid). This concept was originally conceived to transfer into the grid a portion of cheap off peak power, from your batteries, into expensive daytime peak load power. You would charge up at night when the rates are low, drive to work, park your car at a V2G receptacle, plug in and tell your car how much power to sell to the grid at the higher daytime price. Then when you got off work, you would have enough juice left to get home. This was before V2G engineers realized that future EVs and Plug-in Hybrids would also be equipped with solarvoltaic glass and solar roof panels, or covered with solar paint.

With lighter vehicles coming, with high capacity batteries and ultracapacitors, with advanced motors and battery chargers, with vehicle bodies covered with solarvoltaic collectors, a whole new world will open up. Your vehicle will generate 1,500 watts of power, maybe more, either for charging your batteries to move you down the road, or to feed power into the grid at peak load rates while your vehicle is parked. How would you like to get credits on your electric bill, while your solar equipped plug-in vehicle is parked in the sun?

All of this will eventually become mass produced standard features financed into your vehicle, and it will pay for itself. As a last resort, if your juice is running low, plug into the V2G system and charge your batteries from the grid. The power will go both ways. Feed electric power into the grid for credits, or draw power out as debits on your electric bill, or on a plastic card that you could use anywhere.

Solar panels, solar glass, and solar paint on vehicles will soon contribute power to your vehicle and to the local grid using V2G. Vehicles capable of exchanging power with the local grid, charging themselves, or generating power on the fly. These vehicles of the future will be portable power plants, and their owners will manage energy from the sun.


No fear; these people will work it all out. I expect initially they will install something similar to what is described; however, because of the gains being made in battery technology even as we speak, they will adjust the charging and swapping networks to accommodate the requirements of their customers. As you may have read, the main idea behind their model is to lease the batteries and sell the cars based on contracts...just like the cell phone industry. If you sign a long enough contract the car is free and you pay for the electrons. The plan is to install charging stations everywhere there is a parking space, which is ideal for the commuter. Long distance trips will initially require a swap out; however, I believe they will work very hard to develop batteries with longer ranges. The holy grail of batteries is one that can go 300 miles at highway speeds and can be quick charged in 5 minutes.


Attention the Honorable, Mayor,
Mr. Gavin Newsome.
I happen to have just completed Invention and the filing for Patents relating to major amount reduction of fuel consumption of motor vehicles.An invention that also improves dramatically the vehicle.
I am the Inventor and patenteeand now need others to become involved.A plancan be provided.
A Car SUV Bus Truck etc type vehicle including the larger and luxury price and type vehicles,can all be changed. The Invention can benew build and after market type. (electricity or liquid fuel type vehicles) Fuel consumption reduction is from 25 to 50%. and additional to the reduction by being electric. Potentially as big a change as the change to electric drive itself.

Additionally the vehicle is superior. The city,suburb typeBuses can be built different, and plug in electric or hybrid and that reduce fuel by the said 50%
Potentiaaly Vehicles being built conventionaly,become non competitive.
More information can be provided to an appropiate City Officer.

Yours Sincerely
Norman Matthews.
PN. 61 8 938 451 36
Mob. 041 222 7 555.
Email smartmat@bigpond.com.au

Henry Gibson

Before stating that solar cells mounted on a Prius can power it, please install solar cells on your own home and power it entirely from solar cells. Or at least mount solar heat collectors on your house and heat and cool it entirely year round.

There is a magic material called Unobtainium that will solve the problems with solar cells, fuel cells, fusion reactors, hydrogen storage tanks and, most soon, cellulostic ethanol; it will also permit the spinning of straw into gold. Unfortunately it will not allow the economic processing of oilshale or building a clean coal power plant or allow the construction of nuclear power reactors or make large SUVs get 50 miles per gallon.

Do not build an electric car; do not buy an electric car; do not sell an electric car; do not import an electric car; do not advertize an electric car. A plug-in-hybrid car is the kind to have even if the small engine charger is rarely used. TZERO demonstrated a PHEV crossing the US over ten years ago with lead batteries that you can now buy in a parts store.

It has long been possible to build an electric car with a range of 200 miles by using ZEBRA batteries, but they are too expensive and the range is over kill for most uses. Lithium batteries are even more expensive and difficult to manage safely and keep cool. ..HG..


Rather than paint-on solar panels, I'd rather have modular semi-removable ones. Since these new electric cars could conceivably last 20 years, you can bet that solar panel technology will have improved much in that time so I'd want to be able to put new ones on. Or maybe that would just entail getting a new paint job.

John Taylor

The Electric car is here. (sort of ...)



You have many good points but battery technologies (and super-caps) may advance a lot faster than we think. Within 10 years the current energy density of 100 to 300 Wh/Kg will move upward towards 500 to 1000 Wh/Kg making BEVs much more practical.

Until then, 60 mpg hybrids and 100 + mpg PHEVs will become common place with first generation lithium batteries.

Battery pack affordability will be solved with highly automated mass production within two to three years.

Producing enough electricity for our future PHEVs and BEVs is not even a challenge. It is a well known mature technology. The half a dozen ways to do it will be part of the future clean energy mix.

An aggressive and effective energy saving program could provide 50 + % of the electric power required. We went from an all electric 65 KWh/day home to a much better built and equipped all electric 25 Kwh/day home. That's enough saved power for 4 PHEVs or BEVs.

The only other intervention required is to fix a GHG/KWh progressive reduction goal and ceiling.

Progressive electrification of our vehicles and HVAC should be a national objective to be monitored and met. It should definately not be left to the Big-3 and coal power plants operators to decide.


To borrow a phrase from William Gibson, the electric car is here. It just isn't evenly distributed yet.

Kit P

Fantastic!!! We all love a good fantasy.


I mostly fear the 'contracts' that will likely come of these possible 'car+charge-up' purchase plans. If we look to the cel phone industry as a model (horrific at that). We are likely to get a subscription-based, pay-for-every-little-thing, roaming-gouged, exclusive-vendor/energy-provider, un-standardized-connection, home/work day premiums, etc.-type deal. The bottom line is that these car+energy-conglomerate providers will be dictating the lifestyle and driving patterns for all their EV car customers. With contracts, it may even be possible that they would set/fix a power rate over the life of the contract, therefore eliminating cost competition. It is crucial that the public licensing system does not accept any and all EV provider's business models. Despite the energy and pollution concerns that worry us all, it benefits us all to not jump into the first PHEV+charging deal that comes our way. How many will do a full cost analysis of the purchase, operating, and repair of the car - because we do not know any better? We don't want to end up like Europe with limited choices, high car and fuel prices, and a general giving-up of the car-trip and independence lifestyle. Be aware.

Kit P


You may want to consider what is important to you as an American. Both the cell phone and POV provide a great deal of freedom but freedom requires discipline. SF is my favorite city that I have been visiting for more than 50 years. If there is a place in the US where a car is not needed, SF is that place.

The problem with cities is not the fuel source of POV. Electric cars will not make anyplace a ‘better place’. Fewer cars being driven less should be a requirement for those who want to live in a large city.


"Requirements" are the last resort of those who fail to teach well. Like the old axiom: "give a man a fish he'll eat for a day - teach him to fish, he eat forever."

Some transactions require fixed regulation, others, like transport choice in cities should be obvious. If you live in any large western city with even marginal public transport - it is less expensive to travel by public transit. If you want to avoid the operation and time cost of a vehicle - leave the car at home.

On the other hand if you want the headache of a vehicle in a big city - okay. You pay to store it, park it, fuel it and maintain it - more trade to local business operators. Forced requirements, are usually an admission that the education process has failed.

Kit P

“Forced requirements, are usually an admission that the education process has failed.”

That is just so much libertarian nonsense but I can see how you would think that. Regulations, codes, and standards (forced requirements if will) are a collection of good practices. Somebody has an a good idea, there is no reason for everyone not to do it. A few examples would be relief valves on hot water heaters, seismic restraints on hot water heaters (in California), multiple smoke detectors, and low flow shower nozzles. I think I can show a very good cost/benefit ratio because these ideas work.

The problem is poorly thought out regulations. California has a ton. It is very simple. If California want to intrude on the lifestyle of its citizens because of concerns about energy and the environment, then the every citizen should be treated the same. There is no practical reason why the Arni can not live in an apartment close to his office. Governor moonbeam did.

There is a systematic approach to solving energy and environmental issue. There is no evidence of that coming out of California. This announcement by the mayors of SF, San Jose, and Oakland is typical. Run around in circles waving arms and how nobody notices that the root cause of the problems.

While we are at it would somebody tell the speaker of the house that natural gas is a fossil fuel.



Your fear is partly misplaced. In case of the mobile phone, the operators have the monopoly on mobile telephony. In case of the electric car, the operators do not have the monopoly on electricity. If the contracts are too expensive/limited, people will simply walk away from them and charge their cars at home.

...don't want to end up like Europe with limited choices...

I live in Europe and it's funny I feel the same way. I can choose car, bicycle, moped, motorbike or public transport. You have mainly 1 option: car. Freedom comes in many shapes.

Kit P

You are free to choose to ride a moped across North Dakota today but I would not recommend it.

I have lived and worked in Europe and the same choices exist in SF ans any city in the EU. Big cities have the same problems, finding place to park, poor air quality, and getting our town on a holiday.

Most Americans can afford own and dive a POV that is a big as bus. Some of have to make choices. Big house, big car, big motor home or big boat?


California needs this in a New York Minute!!!


California needs this in a New York Minute!!!


GM needs some good news to talk about. Over the past five years, onerous union obligations, including the legacy health-care costs of its pensioners, have bled GM's finances at home. Meantime, the automaker has been losing market share to its more fuel-efficient Japanese rivals as the rapid industrialization of China and India boost gasoline prices in the U.S., and weaken demand for the trucks and SUVs that have long been GM's bread and butter. If these trends sound frightening, the bottom line is downright bleak.

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