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Renault-Nissan, Ireland Utility Team Up for Electric Car Network

renault-nissan-esbCharging ahead with its plan to make electric vehicles for the masses, the Renault-Nissan Alliance and the Irish government today said they’ve teamed up to develop an electric car network with ESB, the Irish electricity provider in which the government holds a partial stake. Energy Minister Eamon Ryan said in a release this morning that the agreement will help Ireland surpass its target of having electric vehicles make up 10 percent of all cars in the country by 2020. “We are well on our way and our streets will see the change very shortly,” he said.

When Ireland’s government announced the 10 percent target late last year, it pledged to offer incentives including tax writeoffs for businesses’ electric-vehicle purchases, launch a $1.3 million research fund, and invest in infrastructure for the some 250,000 electric vehicles planned to hit Irish roads over the next 12 years.

According to an Irish Times report, the agreement announced today will lead to some of that infrastructure. ESB will deploy a network of charging points throughout the country and offer a “special night-rate deal” that will let people pay less to charge up their cars when they plug them in at night. Renault-Nissan’s role will be providing electric vehicles for private drivers, delivery fleets and others.

Renault-Nissan has already teamed up with utilities in San Diego, Calif., Oregon, France and Switzerland for similar projects, and also formed partnerships (some of them along with EV infrastructure startup Better Place) with national, state and local governments, including Portugal and Israel.

Through their alliance, Nissan and Renault (developing electric cars using batteries produced by Nissan’s joint venture with NEC) have been gradually piecing together the kind of “plug-in ecosystem” that General Motors (s GM) spoke about yesterday in a call with reporters in which it discussed what it will take to make plug-in vehicles practical and easy to maintain for large numbers of drivers — positioning themselves for what could be a hefty piece of the cleaner car market.