California to be electric car capital

Officials in California have unveiled ambitious plans to turn the San Francisco Bay area – home to 7,6-million people – into one of the world’s leading centres for electric vehicles.

If it succeeds, the strategy will see billions of dollars poured into a power infrastructure that will turn the region away from fossil fuels and persuade millions of people to switch to green transport technology.

The plan, which will see the bay area become the first region of California to switch its transport systems entirely away from traditional fuels, is being supported by local government as well as the state’s governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger. “California is already a world leader in fighting global warming and promoting renewable energy,” he said. “This partnership is proof that by working together we can achieve our goals of creating a healthier planet while boosting our economy.”

Globally, cars generate about 20% of the world’s output of carbon dioxide and California’s cars account for 40% of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions. Replacing around 1-million petrol cars with electric cars by 2015, as is proposed under the new plans, will make a big difference.

At least $1-billion is expected to be spent on improving green transport infrastructure to make the bay area – encompassing the cities of San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose as well as Silicon Valley – the leading centre for electric vehicles in the United States, and potentially around the world.

The electric transportation company Better Place will build a network of kerbside charging points across cities in the area and create the equivalent of filling stations, where electric car owners will be able to replace their flat batteries for fully charged ones.

The first cars in the California scheme would be deployed in 2010. –

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