Better Place, the startup that wants to bring a network of electric car battery-replacement and recharging stations to Israel, Denmark, Australia and the San Francisco Bay Area, has added Hawaii to its list of places to electrify.
Better Place said Tuesday that it hopes to begin permitting for a network in the Aloha State within the next year, in anticipation of electric vehicles hitting the market in the next 18 months and reaching mass-market penetration by 2012.
That's about the same timeline the Palo Alto, Calif.-based startup has put on its $1 billion plan to bring electric car charging stations to the San Francisco Bay Area, its first project in the United States, announced last month (see Better Place to Charge Up California).
The Hawaii announcement didn't have a price tag attached, but it did include an agreement between Better Place and the utility Hawaiian Electric to collaborate on the creation of the car-charging network.
Better Place hopes consumers will want to own electric cars with batteries that can be swapped out at charging station, which would be a lot faster than waiting hours to charge a battery.
The company has a partnership with Nissan-Renault to launch cars and its charging station networks in Denmark and Israel (see Bumpy Road Ahead for Project Better Place? And Sci-fi Inspired Vehicle to Hit California Roads). Better Place founder and CEO Shai Agassi has said he's open to working with other carmakers as well.
Like Israel and Denmark, Hawaii's small size might make it a natural market for electric vehicles that are likely to have shorter ranges – about 150 miles – than their gasoline-fueled counterparts.
Hawaii also stands out for having some of the highest gasoline prices in the United States. The state spends up to $7 billion a year on oil imports, according to the office of Hawaii's Governor Linda Lingle.
Better Place's plan fits in with the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative, which sets the state a goal of getting 70 percent of its energy from clean sources by 2030, Lingle said in a news release.
Better Place had denied rumors that it was looking at Hawaii as a target market earlier this year (see Better Place Yet to Close Hawaii Electric Car Deal). The company has raised $200 million (see Project Better Place Tops Off).
Some have questioned Better Place's model, saying fast-charging electric car batteries is a better technology to pursue (see Electric-Car Firms Push Alternative to Project Better Place's Idea).