Because of environmental concerns, and partially as a result of the market success of the Toyota Prius and other hybrid vehicles, there is considerable interest in all-electric vehicles, like the Chevrolet Volt. However, the prospects for these vehicles have been clouded by the infrastructure problem: can it make sense to buy an all-electric car if you are not sure that you can recharge it, away from home, if necessary,
Now, according to an article on the “Law and Disorder” blog at Ars Technica, a company called Coulomb Technologies will install 4,600 electric car charging stations in nine US metropolitan areas by September, 2011. The company will not charge for the installation of the stations in public spaces, businesses, and even individual homes; the $38 million cost of the project will be covered in part by a $15 million grant from the Department of Energy.
Those charging stations will hopefully blanket the Austin, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York, Orlando, Sacramento, San Jose/San Francisco, Redmond, and Washington DC metropolitan areas, establishing a viable network for charging EVs.
The new stations will be part of the company’s ChargePoint America project, aimed at establishing the necessary infrastructure to support widespread use of electric vehicles. The project has also signed up Chevrolet, Ford, and Smart as partners, to ensure that a supply of electric vehicles is available for sale in the target metropolitan areas.
The new charging stations will be connected via the ChargePoint network, which will enable drivers to locate nearby charging stations with available capacity, and allow them to remotely monitor the charging operation (for example, if their vehicle is being charged while they are at work).
There will undoubtedly be many bumps in the road before we have a significant switch to electric vehicles, but this seems like a constructive experiment to help work out the kinks.