Will Obama help grow an electric car bumper crop in Hawaii?


Will Barack Obama’s childhood island state become the first in the nation to fully support a transition to electric vehicles? The President-Elect has made it clear he plans to make sustainability and green-collar jobs top priorities during his administration. Now, Hawaii is attempting to lead the country in adopting use of all-electric vehicles. It’s a refreshing change of pace from the greed and lack of vision we’ve been witnessing on Capitol Hill as the Big Three automakers beg for a bail-out.


This past Tuesday, Hawaii announced plans to become the first state in the U.S. to create a statewide electric recharging network for electric cars. The Hawaiian state government has joined forces with Better Place, an ambitious start-up that I posted about earlier this year, in an effort to make all-electric vehicles a reality by building car charging and battery swapping stations around the islands and purchasing renewable energy from Hawaiian Electric Co., the state’s largest utility.


They plan to have the recharging stations up and running by 2011, and to have built 50,000 to 100,000 charging spots across the state by early 2012. Shai Agassi, Better Place’s founder and CEO, claims the electric cars will cost the same as gas powered cars — at first. However, over time, electric cars will be less expensive to make because they use far less parts than cars with internal combustion engines.


In late November, San Francisco and the surrounding Bay Area cities also announced plans to join forces with Better Place to create an electric recharging network by 2012. However, Better Place chose Hawaii as the first statewide rollout for several reasons: the size of the state, the contained environment and consistent climate the island offers, and the abundance of renewable energy resources, such as wind, solar, geothermal and wave power.


Here are two short clips: one of Agassi and Hawaiian Governor Linda Lingle driving one of the Better Place electric vehicles (hopefully, we’ll be seeing more of these cars in the near future), and one of Agassi answering a reporter’s questions about Better Place’s agenda for the Bay Area.




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