France Unveils Ambitious EV Charging Plan

Country will spend 1.5 billion euros to provide charging stations for up to 2 million electric and hybrid cars

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The French ecology minister, flanked by the CEOs of Renault and Peugeot Citroen, announced plans this week to build the infrastructure needed to support up to 2 million electric and hybrid cars by 2020. A million battery charging points are to be deployed by 2015, in parking lots, private homes, and roadside stations; from 2012 on, all new apartment buildings with parking lots will be required to include charging stations. Some of the 1.5  billion euros allocated to the plan also will go to support R&D on batteries and advanced cars.

The plan, coming hard on the heels of President Sarkozy's carbon tax, is expected to unleash in France a "battle of the electric cars" among the nation's major manufacturers.

 

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This photograph shows a car with the words “We Drive Solar” on the door, connected to a charging station. A windmill can be seen in the background.

The Dutch city of Utrecht is embracing vehicle-to-grid technology, an example of which is shown here—an EV connected to a bidirectional charger. The historic Rijn en Zon windmill provides a fitting background for this scene.

We Drive Solar

Hundreds of charging stations for electric vehicles dot Utrecht’s urban landscape in the Netherlands like little electric mushrooms. Unlike those you may have grown accustomed to seeing, many of these stations don’t just charge electric cars—they can also send power from vehicle batteries to the local utility grid for use by homes and businesses.

Debates over the feasibility and value of such vehicle-to-grid technology go back decades. Those arguments are not yet settled. But big automakers like Volkswagen, Nissan, and Hyundai have moved to produce the kinds of cars that can use such bidirectional chargers—alongside similar vehicle-to-home technology, whereby your car can power your house, say, during a blackout, as promoted by Ford with its new F-150 Lightning. Given the rapid uptake of electric vehicles, many people are thinking hard about how to make the best use of all that rolling battery power.

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