Electric car charging stations expanding in Western Washington

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by GLENN FARLEY / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @GlennFarley

KING5.com

Posted on March 7, 2011 at 6:45 PM

Updated Monday, Mar 7 at 6:51 PM

SEATTLE -- With gas prices rising, you might wish you had an electric car. Nissan is finally delivering electric vehicles to consumers, and one big problem for electric cars is about to be fixed in Western Washington.

Every morning Samantha Quick silently slips out of her garage and hits the road.  And she says the reasons for loving her electric car are simple.

"It doesn't use any gas and it just works like every other car," she said.

Her six-week-old Nissan Leaf is one of the first mass-marketed, all-electric cars. After tax credits, one can be driven away for about $25,000. But the payoff becomes clear in the garage, as the computerized home charging station tells you how much you're saving.

"Based on the numbers, our charging station has told us what we're paying is less than a third of what we were paying for gas," Quick said. That's one-third of what she was paying compared to her 40 mile per gallon Toyota Prius Hybrid.

But while passing up gas stations may be fun, there is concern over whether there are enough places to charge up. The lack of charging stations outside of the home is an industry concern and a potential drag on future sales. There's even a name for it: Range anxiety.

Right now, there are only a few places where you can zap your vehicle. Often, they are located at government facilities. There are two in the parking garage at Bellevue City Hall. But that's about to change.

"By the end of this year, we'll have installed 1,200 charging stations throughout central Puget Sound, Olympia areas," Rich Feldman with ECOtality said Monday.  His company is working with a federal-private partnership to rapidly expand the number of charging stations in Western Washington.

In its latest move, Blink EV charging stations will be installed in the parking lots of Fred Meyer stores. It's a simple equation to attract electric vehicle buyers and get an edge over the competition. The stores provide a freebie for customers while electric car owners are inside spending money.

"30 to 60 cents for an hour of charging activity," Feldman said.

Other rapid DC chargers may charge a fee for charging up. The car owner would pay for this by tapping a debit-style card and having money deducted from their account, or by using a smart phone and have the charging fee added to his or her phone bill.

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