The long-awaited Chevrolet Volt goes on sale Fall 2010. A real problem for owners of electric cars and plug-in hybrids is that recharging stations are still limited. General Motors and its partners will reduce what’s called range anxiety by making 15,000 charging stations available to Chevy Volt buyers. These are heavy-duty 240-volt charging stations, which can be installed in a garage.
Electric cars and PHEV plug-in hybrids like the Chevrolet Volt generally recharge in around three hours on 240-volt, which is what we use to run washing machines and often air conditioners. It takes eight hours on regular household current. As part of the purchase price, Chevrolet is giving Volt buyers a special 120-volt charge cord with the unique prong that’s being standardized for EV and PHEV vehicles.
One-third of those fast-charge stations — or 4,400 — will be available for free, including installation. Normally, a charging station and installation costs between $1,000 and $2,000. The other 10,000 stations will be in public garages, corporate fleet garages and such.
The charging stations are computerized, of course, and GM and the DOE will collect the data to help plan for more widespread use of electric cars. Information collected will include such things as average charge time, energy usage and the starting and ending time of the charging process.
The EV and PHEV charging stations are from either ECOtality, Inc. or Coulomb Technologies. The projects are made possible with a grant of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds from the Transportation Electrification Initiative administered by the U.S. Department of Energy.
The Chevrolet Volt is an electric vehicle with extended range capability, designed to drive up to 350 miles without stopping to recharge or refuel. For the first 40 miles, Volt is powered by pure electricity, without using gasoline or producing tailpipe emissions. When the Volt’s lithium-ion battery is depleted, a gasoline-powered engine/generator seamlessly operates to give you another 300 miles of driving range.
At least GM has stopped claiming that the Chevrolet Volt gets 240 miles per gallon, which I wrote about recently on my Green Car Examiner pages.