Wheels in motion for electric car network - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Wheels in motion for electric car network

Ted Liu Ted Liu
Robbie Alm Robbie Alm

By Mari-Ela David - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - Yet another announcement from the Governor's office on her mission to break Hawaii's dependence on oil. It's the 10th announcement since Governor Linda Lingle launched the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative, which outlines her goal to generate 70% of the state's energy from clean energy sources.

On Tuesday, Governor Lingle unveiled a plan to bring an electric car network to all the islands.

Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) signed an agreement with a company called Better Place. HECO says it is the first utility in the United States to make a deal like this.

"Today is significant because it's happening in the backdrop of what you all know is happening in Washington D.C. The big three auto makers are asking Congress, our federal government, for a bail out of what I believe is a failed business model," said Ted Liu, Department of Business Economic Development and Tourism Director.

Signing a Memorandum of Understanding, HECO and Better Place commit to build an electric car network in Hawaii.

"We'll put a network of charge spots. Think of it like parking meters only instead of taking your money, they give you electricity," said Better Place Founder and CEO, Shai Agassi.

HECO will then hook the charge spots to its electrical grid.

"Every plugged in car on that system could give us back power and we can take that power back on to the grid to help Hawaii with any kind of grid emergency," said Robbie Alm, HECO Executive Vice President.

Better Place plans to partner up with car makers to mass produce an electric car, which Governor Lingle says will help boost the economy.

"You won't see just one car company come to Hawaii, you'll see many car companies. You won't see one biofuel company, you'll see many biofuel companies," she said.

The electric car can go zero to 60 in less than 10 seconds, runs 120 miles on a single charge, and its price tag is the same as regular gas-fueled cars.

The cost to run them will vary.

"They will look very much like mobile phone models, so there'll be a number of miles you buy per month. You can move miles from month to month. Maybe even a flat fee, all you can drive type of model," said Agassi.

The electric car network should be ready to go by 2011.

KHNL News 8 first reported Better Place's plans back in October, after it presented them to the Hawaii Auto Dealers Association.

At that time, a company spokesperson said they wanted to eventually have 100,000 electric cars in Hawaii.

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