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August 12, 2009

Don't Forget to Plug in Your . . . Car?

electric-car-charging-closeup
Fueling up, EV-style.
Photo: Element Lexington

by Brook Wilkinson

The Element Lexington hotel in Massachusetts, one of the greener hotels in the country, has just opened a charging station for electric vehicles. It's the first to admit, however, that not many people will be pulling up for a charge in the near future--there are only a handful of all-electric or plug-in hybrids on the road right now (many of them on the other side of the country, in California). But that could change soon: Chevrolet is set to debut the Volt, a plug-in hybrid, in 2010 (though you probably won't see one on the road until at least 2012), and Nissan will come out with the Leaf around the same time. Other makers likely won't be far behind. What's needed before these cars hit the road is the infrastructure to support them: a network of charging stations like the one at the Element. Without that infrastructure, drivers won't be able to venture more than about 50 miles from home, since the current battery technology provides for a range of 100 miles or less. Currently, ChargePoint (the maker of the Element's charging station) lists just 39 stations across the country. Kudos to Element, but we've got a long way to go before electric cars rule the roads.

Further reading:
* Great Drives: Stephan Wilkinson rides shotgun in the Nissan GT-R from the Great Basin to Big Sur.
* Responsible Traveler: Making a difference.

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