Chicago shows strong EV support
Chicago has plans to be a leader in the electric vehicle (EV) segment. Not satisfied with plans that other areas have to emphasize Level 2 charging, Chicago is a big supporter of DC fast charge stations with more than a quarter of all planned installations being of the fast charge variety. Current plans call for an installation of 280 charge stations total, with 73 being of the fast charge variety by the end of 2011. The advantage offered by these fast charge locations is that a 30 minute lunch or shopping stop gets you an 80% charge. We see fast chargers as being the tipping point for wide spread EV adoption, especially as vehicle range expands to 150-200 miles. If full charge range equals 200 miles, an additional 80% could provide a daily range of 360 miles, soothing the concerns of many EV nay-sayers. Let’s quickly do the math – 360 miles times 365 (days in the year) equals 131,400 miles – a distance we feel that not many will achieve. In fact, the current 100 miles per day claim of the Nissan LEAF would provide an annual range of 36,500 miles (100 miles per day times 365 days per year). Based on current technology, these fast charge stations could easily provide one with an annual range of 65,700 miles (180 miles per day times 365 days per year). As most drivers drive 15,000 miles per year or less, it can be seen that current technology EV batteries are easily capable of meeting the needs of most drivers in the United States. We don’t anticipate that most (if any) EV users will have a need to use these fast chargers on a daily basis, but certainly, they will go a long way toward eliminating the idea of range anxiety.
One reason that many have hesitated to install fast charging equipment is that there is currently no connection standard in the Unites States. Think back to Blue Ray vs. HD DVD, or even earlier to VHS vs. Betamax video tapes. There are currently different connection systems in use around the world with no global standard. Chicago is taking a risk by installing the current Japanese standard CHAdeMO connectors on their DC fast charge equipment that a future U.S. standard might be different. According to CEO Mariana Gerzanych of 350Green LLC, the San Diego based company charged with managing the implementation of the infrastructure, they will be able to accommodate future changes as part of the contractual arrangement with the city.
Bottom line – Chicago will be offering a large charging network to a significant percentage of its population to encourage the adoption of EVs.