I never found out what came first, the chicken or the egg, but we may be finding an answer to our chicken/egg question for electric cars. Will an electric charging infrastructure be first, or the mass adoption of electric cars?
Car chargers, built for public use are being installed at malls, businesses and homes eliminating one of the excuses holding back the sale of electric cars. For many drivers an electric vehicle makes a ton of sense most of the year but if I can't make a couple of necessary 500-mile trips every year it isn't worth it. Maybe that isn't really a valid excuse any more?
Here are just a few of the developments helping to expand the charging network.
- Milbank Manufacturing is leveraging its distribution network to sell AeroVironment (Nasdaq: AVAV ) car chargers. The chargers will be sold to utilities, contractors, businesses and consumers around the country.
- ECOtality is building the very audacious EV Project, a plan to install 15,000 charging stations throughout five states.
- 3M (NYSE: MMM ) has installed charging stations for guests and employees at its headquarters in St. Paul, MN. The stations will be part of the expanding ChargePoint network, which can locate stations on its very own iPhone app. Chargepoint has installed charging stations at locations around the country including Buffalo Wild Wings in Florida, a bank in Minnesota, and a City Hall in Kansas.
General Electric (NYSE: GE ) is also making a splash with the stylish WattStation that should be available this year. For now, they've just provided us with some entertaining commercials.
As these networks are built nationwide an electric vehicle becomes a little less scary for those of us interested in taking the leap. But auto manufacturers will have to start extending the range of electric vehicles beyond what they currently make. Tesla Motors (Nasdaq: TSLA ) advertises a 244-mile range for the Roadster but a quick Google search will show more than a few drivers say that number is a little questionable. The Nissan Leaf is even worse with a range of just 100 miles.
It's nice to know there will be lots of charging stations available when I'm ready to buy an electric car. I just hope I have the range to get there.