Electric Vehicles: Charging Ahead  

Posted by Big Gav in

The WSJ has an article on "cities working with car companies to prepare for the arrival of electric vehicles" - Charging Ahead.

With the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt due to launch late this year, the car companies are making deals with local officials around the country to set up public charging stations and make it easier for customers to power up at home. In some areas, utilities are also backing the efforts, offering customers special rate packages for recharging their cars.

But the electrification efforts aren't limited to the usual suspects—traditionally green cities like San Francisco and Seattle. Efforts are also under way in places like Orlando, Indianapolis and Memphis, Tenn., where the motor vehicle is the main mode of transportation—and where electric cars will likely meet their ultimate success or failure. ...

Pike Research, a Boulder, Colo., clean-tech market-research firm, forecasts that there will be 610,000 plug-in vehicles in the U.S. by 2015. But some of the groundwork is already in place to support the first generation of electric cars. Industry experts say that utilities have enough capacity to handle the vehicles for at least a few decades. Dealing with a sudden influx of electric cars into an area is something like accommodating a new subdivision—a "fairly familiar challenge," says a spokesman for Puget Energy, a subsidiary of Puget Holdings.

What's more, given that the cars are designed as commuter vehicles, with a limited range of 40 to 100 miles, there's not a pressing need for massive public infrastructure to support them. In fact, all that most people really need to charge up for their daily drive is an accessible 220-volt outlet, the kind that electric clothes dryers use. (Cars charge twice as quickly from a 220-volt outlet as from a standard 110-volt outlet, which can take more than 12 hours for a full charge.)

Still, car makers are trying to make the transition to electric as smooth as possible for buyers—and that means making sure it's easy to charge up in as many places as possible.

So, Nissan Motor Co. is crafting alliances with municipalities and utilities in the 15 to 20 markets where it will initially launch the Leaf, a compact hatchback. As part of the effort, Electric Transportation Engineering Corp., a Nissan partner, will install more than 11,000 charging stations in Arizona, California, Oregon, Tennessee and Washington state, using a $100 million award from the U.S. Department of Energy. More than half will be public stations, and a few hundred of those will be "fast charging," able to charge a vehicle in minutes instead of hours.

Nissan has also struck a deal with AeroVironment Inc., of Monrovia, Calif., to supply home-charging packages that will be sold along with the car: Customers can buy 220-volt outlets for their garage and get installation included in the price. The company will also take care of the often-onerous permitting involved, Nissan says.


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