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Bay Area seeks to become electric-car capital

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Kimberly White / Reuters

(Read caption) Hybrid electric cars sit on display in front of San Francisco's city hall on November 20. San Francisco Bay Area cities promised to build the electric car capital of the United States, announcing a plan to work with start-up Better Place to put battery-powered autos on the road in 2012.

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The mayors of San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose announced an ambitious public-private partnership last week to develop a $1 billion network of charging outlets for electric cars.

The money will be raised by Better Place, a Silicon Valley startup that develops infrastructure to support electric vehicles. The company plans to install about 250,000 charging ports and up to 200 battery-exchange stations in the Bay Area by 2012. The mayors say that they predict that this network will make the area a top-priority market for electric-vehicle manufacturers.

"Our aim is to make the Bay Area – and eventually Californiathe electric vehicle capital of the US," said San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom in a press release.

The plan was praised by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who touted its environmental and economic potential.

"This type of public-private partnership is exactly what I envisioned when we created the first ever low-carbon fuel standard and when the state enacted the zero-emissions vehicle program." said Governor Schwarzenegger in the press release. "This partnership is proof that by working together, we can achieve our goals of creating a healthier planet while boosting our economy at the same time."

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