Better Place might have received the red-carpet treatment Thursday for its $1 billion project, but fellow electric-car charging station developer Coulomb Technologies wants you know that it will bring electrical power to drivers in California much sooner.

Coulomb, a 1-year-old startup based in Campbell, Calif., also is raising $5 million to $8 million to expand its manufacturing capability, Richard Lowenthal, CEO of Coulomb told Greentech Media.

The startup plans to set up 40 charging stations on major California highways during the first quarter of 2009, Lowenthal said.

The company intends to install hundreds more in new and existing gas stations throughout California by the end of 2009. Lowenthal said he can't yet divulge where the stations will be, citing agreements with customers.

"Our expected volume for 2009 is modest. It's kind of like a trial period for the United States to get these out there," Lowenthal said. "We are rolling out the welcome mat for the cars to come."

Major carmakers, from General Motors to Toyota, have plans to introduce plug-in hybrid electric cars by 2010.

The company announced its plans to deploy charging stations on the same day when Better Place said it plans to set up its own electric-car charging network in the San Francisco Bay Area (see Better Place to Charge Up California).

Better Place, also based in Silicon Valley, is launching an ambitious project that will cost about $1 billion, its founder Shai Agassi said. Mayors of San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland put on a splashy press conference to say they will make it easy for Agassi to get permits and other help to carry out the project.

Lowenthal said he's moving ahead with his own deployment and doesn't expect government money.

Coulomb is due to open a demonstration project in downtown San Jose next month, when at least five stations will be set up in parking garages and curbside.

Coulomb's business model involves selling its charging devices to distributors or gas station owners and selling consumers subscription services for using these stations. Each charging station is actually a compact device that can be mounted onto street light poles.

Earlier this year, the company announced a partnership with V2Green, which is developing the software for managing electricity flow between the grid and the cars (see Move to Greener Cars Accelerates).