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Last updated at 15:41 BST, Monday, 26 March 2012

Are electric cars gaining ground?

Summary

26 March 2012

Australia's first electric car charging station has opened in the city of Melbourne. It takes about five hours to charge each vehicle, but costs a fraction of the price of petrol. Those behind the project say it has huge potential to provide carbon neutral transport in Australia.

Reporter

Phil Mercer

Electric car display on a Motor Show

Will electric cars gain popularity in Australia?

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Report

Australia, the world's largest exporter of coal, is addicted to fossil fuels, which generate most of its electricity and drives much of its transport system.

In the Melbourne suburb of Brunswick, conservationists say a small but significant step has been taken towards a cleaner energy future.

Australia's first solar power charging station for electric cars has been switched on. It takes up to 5 hours to fully replenish a battery that allows an average vehicle to travel about 150kms.

As the technology improves, it's hoped that batteries could eventually be fully charged within half and hour.

Environmentalists say that Australia has been slow to embrace electric cars compared to other countries because of what they describe as "serious cultural and political resistance" to change.

Petrol prices recently hit US$1.60 a litre here. If those costs continue to rise then Australia's indifference to electric-powered vehicles could begin to change.

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Vocabulary

exporter

dealer who sells something abroad

fossil fuels

material taken from the ground and converted to energy

drives

powers

energy

generated power

solar power

energy from the sun's rays

switched on

started

replenish

renew

slow to embrace

late in accepting

resistance

to change

indifference to

lack of interest in

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