According to the Chicago Tribune, the first DC Quick Charger has been installed in the cell phone waiting lot at Midway International Airport. The second is due to be installed this week at the University of Illinois.
The significance of this news is that it actually caused Nissan to step up distribution of the LEAF into the Chicago area ahead of their initially scheduled timetable because of the states support for electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure. The plan is to have over 70 DC Quick Chargers installed by year end (an ambitious goal we think). This is particularly ambitious as their target is to also install 200 240-volt Level 2 charging docks by year end also. Over 100 of the 240-volt charging docks have already been installed, so they have demonstrated the ability to get things done. According to Mariana Gerzanych, chief executive of 350Green, the company managing the infrastructure build out, they plan to be on time and on budget.
Before we go on, let’s analyze the placement of this charger location. It is at the airport, where one may leave their car for hours or days. You might wish to have a DC Quick Charger available to get home after your trip. Also, by having it off-site in the Midway cell phone waiting lot, it is only minutes from the airport and easily accessible. Others major cities looking for locations for DC quick chargers should take note. Assuming one still has a few electrons left in the battery upon arrival, 15-20 minutes of charging should be able to get you home. Another advantage is this: EV drivers will not be unplugging others that arrived before them in the parking structure to plug in their own car. We feel that one or two DC Quick Chargers, optimally placed, is a much better and ultimately less expensive investment than 12 240-volt charging docks improperly located. There will be no cost initially to recharge, with a pricing plan to be implemented early next year.
The state of Illinois is making it particularly attractive to buy an electric vehicle. On top of the Federal tax credit of $7,500, the state is offering an additional incentive of $4,000 to Alternative Fuel Vehicle (AFV) buyers. This potentially reduces the acquisition cost of the LEAF by $11,500.
Another bit of good news gleaned from the Tribune article – according to Brendan Jones, Director of Nissan LEAF Marketing and Sales Strategy, Nissan is expecting 800 DC Quick Charger installations in the US within 90 days and over 1,000 more in 2012. Again, the year-end goal sounds optimistic to us, but we would love to see it come about. These stations have received the ETL Listed Mark (Electrical Testing Labs) issued by Intertek. The ETL Listed Mark is equivalent to a UL listing.
UPDATE 2/4/12: According to a comment provided below, this Midway Airport cell phone waiting lot location has a 240-volt Level 2 charging station, not a 480-volt DC fast charger. We will attempt to contact 350Green, the charging station provider to resolve the question of the Level 3 charge station installation.