Just like their gasoline-burning forebears, electric cars need to refuel. And as more e-cars take to Boulder’s roads, the city is gradually gearing up to meet their fuel needs.
One new recharge station has just opened at the Wolf Law Building on the University of Colorado’s campus.
“We want to be able to offer this opportunity in a public fashion,” said Moe Tabrizi, CU’s campus sustainability director.
Electric cars can plug into the 220-volt station for two to three hours at $6 and $9, respectively.
Tabrizi said the new charging station is a step toward CU’s ultimate goal of carbon neutrality.
“This is a small piece of that large plan,” he said.
The electric-vehicle movement is gaining traction throughout Boulder. Two other stations have opened. The city had planned to spend $500,000 in federal grant money to open 38 more by June 2012. But those ambitious plans hit a snag when stations turned out to cost two to three times more than expected — $10,000 to $15,000, compared to earlier estimates of $4,000.
Still, Joe Castro, facilities and fleet manager for the city of Boulder, wants to make sure that Boulder is ready when more electric cars come online.
“Having the stations ahead of the cars promotes the purchase of electric vehicles in alleviating the … anxiety prospective buyers may have,” he said in an e-mail. “Although it’s predicted that 80 percent of owners will charge their vehicles at home.”
Electric cars are “fueled” by a large, rechargeable lithium ion battery pack housed within the car. Responding to the amount of pressure applied to the “gas” pedal, the motor receives more or less current, allowing the driver to go his or her desired speed.
Companies like Nissan, with its 2010 release of the Leaf, and the dual gas generator/electric Chevy Volt are driving the market in the electric direction as well. Then there’s Tesla, whose ultra-sexy exterior masks an ultra eco-friendly interior.
“Tesla is all about proving that electric cars can be anything that an internal combustion vehicle can be,” said Camille Ricketts of Tesla’s communications department. “The purpose of the roadster was to grab the world’s attention that (electric cars) can … drive like most of the coveted super cars on the road.”
But for the most part, rechargeable cars are built with the commuter in mind — people who drive to work and back during the day, then let the car sit in the garage to recharge overnight, when energy costs are minimal.
Ricketts deflects the worries of skeptics concerned that more coal plants will have to be built to keep up with rising electricity demands.
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