Daimler, Enel to Launch Electric Car Network in Italy

Luxury automaker Daimler (s DAI) of Germany together with Italy’s largest electricity producer, Enel (s ENEL), plan to roll out more than 100 electric vehicles and 400 charging stations for testing in Rome, Milan and Pisa by 2010. Executives from the companies agreed last week that Daimler will supply and maintain electric Smart Fortwos and Enel will deploy infrastructure, including a system for drivers to locate available stations and a central control center. Kicking off on the heels of EV network deals in Hawaii, Japan and Germany, this latest “e-mobility Italy” project gives Silicon Valley yet another rival in the race to birth the era of Car 2.0.

While we doubt it caused Daimler’s “talks” with Better Place to fall through, Enel’s infrastructure plan could create a more direct path to reducing vehicle-related emissions than Shai Agassi’s fast-rising strategy, which involves creating the demand and storage capacity necessary for energy companies to start turning away from fossil fuels. The Daimler-Enel partnership eliminates the middleman.

Enel has built out its renewable energy capacity in recent years to take advantage of incentives from the Italian government, and it said last week that it will supply all of the charging stations with electricity verified by Europe’s Renewable Energy Certificate System, which awards credits for energy generated from clean sources such as solar, wind, and geothermal.

Daimler, which announced a partnership with German utility RWE for an EV network in Berlin last September, plans to launch similar projects throughout Europe and in the U,S.