GM teams up with electric giants for plug in car stations

GM teams up with electric giants for plug in car stations San Francisco  - Paving the way for the introduction of its plug-in electric vehicles in 2010, General Motors announced Tuesday that it was teaming up with 37 utility companies across the US and Canada to design and build the nationwide infrastructure needed to recharge the vehicles.

The ailing auto-giant has been hard hit as skyrocketing petrol prices cause people to dump the gas-guzzling models produced by the company in favour of smaller cars not offered by US auto makers.

GM sees its plug-in hybrid cars as a key stage to recovery but needs the cooperation of utilities to build an effective charging mechanism that would not overload the already-strained electrical system. The first car scheduled to hit showrooms is the Chevrolet Volt, which is designed to run some 65 kilometres at top speed using only battery power after which a small turbine engine will be used to recharge the batteries. It is estimated that if a car is recharged daily it could travel some 1,000 kilometres without using any petrol. Toyota and Ford are also working on plug-in hybrids.

"We can transform automotive transportation as we know it and get our nation and the world past oil dependence - and heading toward a future that is electric," Jonathan Lauckner, GM's vice president of global program management, said. "Thousands of cars is a fail. We need tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands over a number of years."

The aim is to provide affordable, reliable electricity sources that are weather-proof and child-proof at locations such as public garages, curbside meters and workplace parking lots.

Customers may be charged less for recharging cars than for running other appliances, and home charging stations would need time metering technology to ensure that cars are recharged primarily at off-peak hours. (dpa)

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