Juicing up in Portland, Oregon
Steve Almasy - CNN
- October 20, 2010
The #1 item that is discussed about the viability of the use of EV's for transportation. --Ed.
Chase Ballew had miscalculated a little bit. He was bringing home some furniture from Ikea in his electric-powered truck, and there wasn't enough charge to get him all the way to the house.
About a mile from his Portland, Oregon, home he decided to pull into the parking lot of an auto parts store to see if it would let him borrow an outlet. He reasoned that the store would have no problem with him recharging, hoping he'd come back in the future. So he charged for a few minutes, getting enough juice to make it the rest of the way.
That, said Ballew, was the only time in his 18 months as a Zap Xebra owner that he was ever close to being stranded.
"I think the added weight cost me a little bit in range," Ballew said by phone recently. "I probably could have kept going, but I was worried I would damage the batteries."
Most of Ballew's trips are short, and this was only one of a few times he has dealt with "range anxiety," a new phrase popular with electric car drivers and potential buyers.
Electric vehicles generally get between 25 to 100 miles on a full "tank" whereas a gas-powered car can go 300 miles or more. And gas stations are everywhere; there are more than 160,000 in the country. There are only a few hundred working electric charging stations. In Portland there are less than 30, Ballew said.
To prevent range anxiety, Ballew said he often will plan trips based on where he can charge the car. For instance, there are two nearby grocery stores. He goes to the one with the eight charging stations and powers up for free while shopping. But still he must keep his trips short.
The good news is the city of Portland is on a mission to install the infrastructure to support the next coming of the mass-produced electric car. Within the next year, Portland will install 500 public-use charging stations, with surrounding communities also putting in similar numbers.... [Read More]