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the Auto Industry. “More public charging is coming,” he adds, “but it doesn’t mat- ter as much as a cheaper upfront cost and longer range—200 miles plus—in- stead of the standard 100 now.”


GOING ELECTRIC Tech Advances May Drive


Eco-Transportation Mainstream by Brita Belli


W


ith the opening of three new Supercharger stations for its luxury Model S on


the East Coast last January, electric carmaker Tesla now operates a total of nine stations serving its electric sedan owners between San Francisco and Los Angeles and between Boston and Washington, D.C. That same month, Nissan an- nounced plans to add 500 public stations for electric vehicle (EV) fast-charging, which provide 80 percent of a charge in less than 30 minutes, tripling the number of such stations by mid-2014, including the first ones in our nation’s capital. It also aims to increase the presence of charging stations at workplaces. These steps in the growth in infra- structure are easing Americans’ transi- tion from gas-powered to electric and hybrid cars. Already, more than 7,000 public charging stations dot the coun- try, from Custer, Washington, to Key West, Florida (plan a route at Tinyurl. com/MobileChargingStations). Mean- while, most EV owners simply charge up at home.


24 New York City Edition


Driving Excitement Excitement has risen in recent years as electric car manufacturers have rolled out more affordable, family-friendly versions like the Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi i-MiEV. Honda is testing its Fit EV in 2013; with only 1,100 avail- able to lease, opportunities to try out the fun, sporty car are at a premium. These models offer considerable fuel efficiency, easy charging and even apps to check their charge, yet eco-vehicles continue to represent a fraction of over- all car sales.


In a 2012 report, the U.S. Energy


Information Administration noted that fewer than 10,000 EVs were sold in 2011. While sales of all-electric ve- hicles improved slightly in the first half of 2012, dealers saw nowhere near the major jump produced by plug-in hybrids like the Chevrolet Volt and Toyota Prius. Obstacles to a stronger EV sales


upswing include purchase price, charg- ing time and driver anxiety about range. “The battery is a big reason the cars are expensive,” says Jim Motavalli, author of High Voltage: The Fast Track to Plug in


NaturalAwakeningsNYC.com


Mass Transit Almost any form of public transporta- tion can run on alternative power— electricity or natural gas, propane, bio- diesel or hydrogen. “The big hurdle,” says Motavalli, “is having enough sta- tions to rival the 160,000 conveniently located gas stations we already have.” Biodiesel buses have been in


use for several years at locations like Colorado’s Aspen resorts and Harvard University. Musicians Willie Nelson and Jack Johnson each rely on a biodiesel tour bus. Many school buses—includ- ing those in Charleston, West Virginia; Medford, New Jersey; and San Diego, California—have been converted to biodiesel, significantly reducing the toxic emissions and particulate matter children breathe in at bus stops. Some school systems in Michigan and New York use hybrid-electric buses. Vehicle fleets are also joining the greening trend. Kansas City, Missouri- based Smith Electric Vehicles already produces all-electric, zero-emission trucks for Coca-Cola, Frito-Lay, Staples and the U.S. Marines. The need for regular recharging, a former obstacle for deploying electric buses for public transportation, has been cleared by Utah State University’s (USU) Aggie Bus. The groundbreaking, all-electric bus has a plate that draws off electricity across an air gap when it pauses over another plate installed at a bus stop. In mid-2013, WAVE, Inc., the university’s offshoot company behind the project, will launch a commercial on-campus demonstration in partner- ship with the Utah Transit Authority, via a 40-foot-long transit bus and 50 kilowatts of wireless power transfer. Such wireless technology could


also revolutionize electric-car recharg- ing. “EV owners and operators will now be able to simply drive over a pad in the ground to recharge their batteries,


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