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Better Place, an early developer of car charging and battery replacing service models, announced on August 28th that it had received a €40 million loan from the European Investment Bank. The company intends to invest these funds in finishing construction of its networks in Denmark and Israel. The company has struggled to raise the funds necessary to complete the expensive infrastructure establishment phase necessary to truly make the network reliable enough to serve as a viable lifeline for electric vehicle owners.

Better Place, founded in 2007, was among the first innovators of a novel approach to electric vehicle charging in which vehicle owners are charged a subscription fee to simply stop off at any Better Place service point and either exchange their vehicle’s drained battery for a fully charged one or park their vehicle for a rapid charge while they wait. Additionally, the company also partners with government and utilities in its target countries to provide EV purchase subsidies, in a further effort to drive down the cost of EV use. A new wave in the company’s efforts to increase EV ownership has seen it partner with automakers, such as Nissan, to offer customers a more robust service which includes the car itself.

Source: GigaOm article

The Indian government officially approved an eight year plan which would see the investment of 230 billion rupee (€3.2 billion) in the development of the country’s electric and hybrid vehicle industries. The plan targets a goal of producing six million such green vehicles by 2020. However, the government expects 4-5 million of these vehicles to be two-wheel vehicles. Nonetheless, even the targeted 1 million vehicle estimate is double that of China’s current goal for 2015 of having 500 000 electric and hybrid vehicles on its roads.

At present, India’s electric and hybrid vehicle industry remains quite underdeveloped as most automakers continue to focus on low-emission, fuel-powered vehicles as they are significantly less expensive to produce, due to the high cost of technology investment.

Source: Scientific American article

General Motors CEO Dan Akerson, announced at a company meeting on August 10th, that the GM backed battery producer Envia Systems had made a significant breakthrough in lithium-ion battery technology. The company believes that the new technological advances could significantly expand a lithium-ion based battery’s capacity. GM is confident that this new breakthrough could soon bring long-range electric vehicles into the budget vehicle range currently occupied by vehicles such as GM’s own Chevrolet Volt, the range of which is limited to a mere 55km using existing battery technology.

While GM’s estimates for the ultimate range of its products is limited by their smaller capacity, the potential for employing this technology in electric cars which already house significantly larger batteries, such as the Think City, open the potential for simultaneously extending EV range far past the 200km mark while also cutting costs, as the new battery advances are estimated to cut production costs in half. Together, these advances could do a great deal to make EVs a viable and attractive option for the average consumer as they become integrated into manufacturers products in the future.

Source: AP/ABC News report

The City of Helsinki announced on August 14th, 2012, plans for the addition of further charging points to its ongoing expansion of the city’s electrical vehicle infrastructure. City officials announced concrete plans that will see the installation of 33 new parking and charging points for EVs over the course of the next 12months. The installation of planned 100 more will be spread out over the coming years, with plans being formalized at a later time.

The locations of the coming charge points will be plotted according to a list of 113 planned charging points drawn up by the City Planning Department. The planned charging points have been selected specifically on the basis of their ability to support network growth and expansion in the future. As such, these locations represent high traffic areas which would most likely serve a greater number of commuters and businesses. The first wave of charging points will be situated in the city’s most centrally located areas in the interest of increasing visibility and accessibility. Officials estimate that the first wave of charging points would be nearing completion by the end of 2012.

The planned locations are marked in red, with existing locations marked in black, on the map below:

Image source: Helsingin Sanomat

Source: Helsingin Sanomat article

A new European Union proposal would, if accepted by member states, impose a series of new efficiency standards on automakers throughout Europe. Under the proposed standards the average emissions level of new cars and vans in the EU would be reduced by one-third from the current average (roughly 140 CO2 g/km) to 80 CO2 g/km by 2020. EU officials at the head of the proposal argue that the consumer savings on fuel costs resulting from the move towards increased efficiency would, ultimately, make European automakers more attractive to local buyers over low-cost foreign cars which burn far more fuel.

The legislation has not been received warmly by the European auto industry and is already facing heavy lobbying efforts, spearheaded by European car manufacturers, against its passing.

Source: Analysis in the Guardian

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