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USA: Initiative drives aim to curb oil dependence

Installation of charging stations fuels mission for a Better Place

WAILUKU – There may only be about 50 electric cars on Maui today, said Anne Ku, director of the University of Hawaii Maui College’s new Maui Electric Vehicle Alliance, but alternative-energy investors are banking on big jumps in the number of these more powerful and less expensive cars on Valley Isle streets soon.

Putting infrastructure in place to charge the electric vehicles up is key to growth, said Brian Goldstein, director of Better Place of Hawaii, whose company recently installed seven charging stations on Maui and 130 across the state.

Much like cellphone towers gave greater coverage to mobile phones and led to them being used by nearly everyone everywhere, Goldstein said, the easier his company makes it for people to power up their electric vehicles, the more likely it will be that Maui and Hawaii residents will literally buy into the movement.

“I think our name explains our mission, to create a Better Place,” Goldstein said. “And our goals fit in well with those of Hawaii’s to reduce the dependence on foreign oil by 70 percent by 2030.”

Goldstein said he expects and hopes that the number of electric vehicles will go from about 350 now in Hawaii to 1,000 by the end of the year. The number of makes and models of such vehicles is expected to grow from three to about 18 in the next 18 months, he said. Those here now include the Chevy Volt, Mitsubishi i and Nissan LEAF. And Toyota and Ford soon will begin selling electric vehicles as well.


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