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Are We There Yet? - Charging Your Electric Car in California


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California Electric Cars

So you just bought your shiny new electric car in California, and it's so quiet and powerful and beautiful to drive. And you can charge it at night, quietly while you sleep, can't you? Well, yes and no. Californians already pay very high electricity rates, and that could go much higher when all your neighbors own their own shiny new electric cars as well. I turns out, as many of you know, that the more electricity you use now in California, the more you pay per unit of electricity. This law is one of California's famous "Green Laws" designed to promote conservation of electricity, and it's working, too.

Some of the more exotic examples of electric cars come from Tesla Motors. Telsa has proven that electric cars can also come in a head turning sports car design. Elon Musk of Tesla Motors commented on how “Tesla is making huge technological strides with energy efficient electric cars." The innovative design of the Tesla Model S, Model X and Tesla Roadster packages an efficient electric drive train design in a custom sports car.

And consider the 2011 Chevy Volt, a wonderful new technological marvel of mass-manufacturing. Just how much juice does it take out of your socket at night? Well, Purdue University finished a study last year which estimates that a new Volt will increase your electricity consumption by 60% for the average household - not a happy event when those tiered-rate whopper electric bills start rolling in every month.

Compared to the "self-charging" Toyota Prius and Chevy Cobalt, oil prices would have to hit $170 to $250 per barrel (currently $85 per barrel for Sept 2011) to make the Volt as cost efficient as one of the hybrids - even including the government subsidies and incentives. Indiana should fare far better than California, with a flat rate of $0.08 per Kwh, as opposed to California's "average" cost of electricity at $0.14 per Kwh. However, all is not bad news - Once the cost of charging electric cars in California start to bite, you can be sure that the politicians will take note!

Out and About in California: "I Need to Filler-Up"

With an estimated minimum 50,000 electric cars on the road in California by the end of 2012, just what will you do if you are away from home and find you need a "filler-up"? In planning for this, the SF Bay Area Air Quality Management District has recently awarded about $4 million to four companies to spur the area's electric vehicle charging infrastructure. To assure the future of the electric car, a publicly available infrastructure needs to be in place before the roads get too crowded. Of that $4m, about $765,000 will be allocated to planning and testing 30 public fast chargers at key transportation sites in the region.

But what if your electric dream car has stopped on the road, batteries flat, far away from home and those public charger stations? Yes, it is going to happen to you sooner or later, you know... But there is good news, just announced recently: the American Automobile Association (AAA) has announced plans to deploy mobile charging units along with their tow trucks and roadside repair services in six states nationwide starting this month, and including California. Keep that number handy!

What About Drive-in Commercial "Electricity Filling Stations"?

"Filling" station entrepreneurs, like Better Place and Coloumb Technologies, have warned that too much government regulation could stifle innovation and scare off investment in such stations. So far, California officials have indicated that they have no intentions yet to regulate "filling" stations like these, but it's not clear what a quick-charge might cost in these stations factoring in return-on-investment issues that investors examine carefully. There are also a host of other issues affecting such stations, e.g. safety, access, taxation, the predicted loads on the grid, and sources and supplies of electricity from the big electric utilities *into* these stations.

“Filling” stations are also becoming popular with tourist destination. A good example is Pioneer RV park in Northern California. Due to the growing popularity of RVers towing electric vehicles behind their motor homes, this RV campground offers its guests a 70 amp EV charging station. As more businesses start to offer this service electric cars will start becoming more feasible for travelers.

No matter how you slice it though, with the new Nissan Leaf expected to sell 30,000 units in 2012, plus the Volt, Cobalt, and Tesla Roadster sales as well, there should be 50,000 - 75,000 electric cars on the road by the end of the year. SoCal Edison alone has plans to deliver enough electricity to be charging over 100,000 cars by 2015. The aging electricity grid in California may be in for some hot times, real soon.

All in all though, now is the time to shift your used ford and go for the electric car. A plethora of advanced technologies and modern politics have now converged, including much better batteries (Lithium Ion and the exciting new Lithium Sulfur on the horizon), higher gas prices, more restrictive emissions standards, and fleet fuel economy laws on Detroit etc. And one thing is certain, whatever California decides, the rest of the nation will learn and follow. The electric car is here to stay.

Compare Electric Vehicles

Not only are all of the major manufacturers (Ford, Chevy, Toyota, Nissan, Jeep, Tesla) designing electric cars but so are a large number of smaller manufacturers, some of the lesser heard from vehicles include the Tango T600 EV, Smart Fortwo EV, and Coda Sedan EV. If you are looking into buying an Electric Vehicle first check out the NorCalCars Electric Vehicle Specifications section.