Massive $1 billion electric car charging grid planned for San Francisco Bay Area

We've mentioned Project Better Place before, the company that plans to create a network of charging stations and battery exchange locations for electric cars in Denmark, Israel and Australia. Backed by super-rich investors, now it's planning an ambitious expansion into the San Francisco Bay area. The idea is to build a $1 billion network of 250,000 charging ports like you see here, 200 battery-swap stations, and a driver service center.

The remarkable aspect of this grand scheme is that most of this infrastructure is targeted to be operational by 2012. The three big-city (San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose) Bay Area mayors are on board with the idea, especially since this high-tech goodness won't cost them a cent. They will offer incentives for companies to install the chargers, and offered to expedite building permits to speed things along.

Meanwhile, Better Place will sell Renault-Nissan cars as part of the plan, and car companies such as GM and Toyota are interested in the idea, too. Tesla says its upcoming Model S sedan will be compatible with the swappable batteries and charging stations, adding that its battery will charge in the time it takes to fill a car's tank with gas. Better Place's remarkable move shows that the electric car scenario could fall into place quicker than anyone thought.

Mercury News, via Treehugger