One week after its speech at the Web 2.0 Summit, Better Place, which aims to build a worldwide electric car network, made a great deal today with the Bay Area’s major cities. In the presence of the mayors of Oakland and San Jose, as well as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Better Place's founder Shai Agassi, in San Francisco’s city hall, Gavin Newsom announced: “Our aim is to make the Bay Area – and eventually California – the electric vehicle capital of the US.”

$1B Investment to Build Agnostic Car Electric Network by 2012

The Bay area will invest $1 billion to build the facilities to support electric car development throughout Northern California, and afterward for the entire state. The program will begin in 2009 and will be deployed in 2012. The thousands of Better Place stations to be installed throughout the Bay Area will be agnostic to the type of electric car, allowing the charging of cars with either fixed or replaceable batteries which a lot of car makers want to launch in electric vehicles in the upcoming years. The ambitious project will be a mix of incentives for employers, households and officials.

A lot of work still remains, like creating a legal environment for the facilities in every city or standardizing the way to refuel the car’s energy (battery exchange locations, fast-charging battery and an agreement on the type of plug and electric outlet). Furthermore, cheap electric cars are not yet available – remember the Tesla roadster at $100,000 – and the success of this investment will also require incentives to develop a mass-produced cheap electric vehicle.

It’s a big investment for California after the approval of railroad proposition 1A, and we can guess that it will inspire Obama’s presidency and his green agenda.

By contributor Matthieu Soule