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Electric Car Charging Stations Starting to Spread

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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.

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Fool contributor Travis Hoium owns shares of AeroVironment. You can follow Travis on Twitter at @FlushDrawFool, check out his personal stock holdings or follow his CAPS picks at TMFFlushDraw.

3M is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. AeroVironment is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers choice. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Read/Post Comments (4) | Recommend This Article (1)

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Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On February 16, 2011, at 8:04 PM, Observero0 wrote:

    Where to start? The electricity has to come from somewhere. Quite a bit of it comes from coal facilities that spew out the "dreaded" CO2. So, if folks think they're not adding insult to the environment, think again.

    Then there's the outrageous cost of the vehicle & the batteries, to say nothing of the nasty chemicals in the batteries with the potential for environmental impact as well as safety & health issues for the workers. Seems like a far better transportation approach may be hydrogen fuel cell use.

  • Report this Comment On February 16, 2011, at 8:54 PM, bottomfisherman wrote:

    Since when a car moves say after it is started by either its electric or gas engine why cannot it recharge itself with an array of mini-turbines since when it is moving there is airflow coming into and over the vehicle? This array then recharges it while it is moving cutting out the need for coal electric plants to spew out more pollution to keep the batteries charged.

  • Report this Comment On February 17, 2011, at 3:15 PM, EVFan wrote:

    You fail to mention the biggest player in the EV Charging Station world : Ecotality (ECTY). ABB just took a 20% position in the Company amd they have the largest DOE program ($230m) calle d the EV Project.

  • Report this Comment On July 22, 2011, at 4:25 AM, gusher1 wrote:

    That's wonderful, if you don't mind spending 8 hours to fill up your "tank."

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