Does Illinois need 280 charging stations for electric cars? NO! Is the driving public even ready for the Chevy Volt, which can run 40 miles on an electric charge? NO!
But is General Motors doing the right thing by building the Volt? YES! And is Gov. Pat Quinn doing the right thing by announcing that Illinois will build the nation’s largest network of fast-charging electric vehicle (EV) stations? YES!
Governor Pat Quinn [Thursday] announced the availability of the nation’s largest network of fast-charging electric vehicle (EV) stations. Motorists can charge an electric vehicle in under 30 minutes using the current fast-chargers at 7-Eleven sites at four Tollway Oasis locations, and will soon be able to charge vehicles at all seven Tollway Oases.
"We want Illinois to be the greenest state in America," Governor Quinn said.
Through the Chicago-Area EV Infrastructure Project, 26 fast-chargers have been installed, with 73 total fast-chargers planned.
The City of Chicago is overseeing the project’s installation of 280 charging stations overall to increase accessibility to EV charging.
In GM’s case, and in Illinois’s case, it’s all about branding. The American auto companies lost out on hybrid cars because, as one executive said, "they don’t make sense at $1.50 a gallon."
Now gasoline costs $4.50 a gallon, and when you think of a hybrid car, you think of a Toyota Prius.
Determined not to let the Japanese beat them again, GM rushed out production of the Volt. It hasn’t been a big seller. In 2011, the car’s first year on the market, the Volt moved 7,600 units. It’s basically a $20,000 subcompact with a $40,000 price tag. It also has to be charged every night, making it practical only for motorists with garages. So far, the Volt is the toy of early adopters who want the most environmental or the most technologically-advanced car.
I have a friend who owns a Volt, and blogs about it here. He got a $7,500 rebate from the federal government for buying an electric car, and another $7,500 rebate from his local utility, so his payments are only $250 a month. He also gets a 25 percent discount on electricity for charging the car between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.
The Volt only seats four people, because the battery pack rests under a hump in the back seat, but my friend only has two kids, so he uses it as the family car. It’s a pretty sweet ride, too. He let me drive it on the highway. Because the electrical system powers the transmission, the car accelerates smoothly from 0 to 60.
So there aren’t enough drivers who want an electric car, and there aren’t enough drivers to plug into all the stations we’re about to install. Some day, there will be. They’ll buy a Volt, and they’ll know they can drive it in Illinois.
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