A few key criticisms leveled at GM's generally popular 2011 Chevy Volt electric vehicle (EV) is the short all-electric range (before the gas engine kicks in) and the relative lack of places to recharge on the go. Similar problems face Ford and Chrysler who are promoting electric vehicles of their own. GM, who perhaps of the domestic automakers has the most hopes riding on electric vehicles, has decided to do something about this predicament, pushing a new initiative to wire communities with recharging stations.
Gas vehicles wouldn't have very long ranges without the gas stations that are littered throughout most of America. That's the point GM is making when it comes to the Volt. While, the relatively long 3 hour charge time (on 220V, 6.5 hours on 110V) precludes a quick recharge, at locations that see longer stays -- like gyms, colleges, and workplaces -- a recharging station could be just the thing for those looking to avoid resorting to using gas in their Volt. The Volt can go 40 miles on a charge before the gas engine kicks in to replenish the battery pack.
GM will be working closely with city officials in San Francisco and Washington D.C. to adopt citywide EV recharging stations. Much work will have to be done with area utilities to arrange for payment schemes and to negotiate rates. GM also plans to target communities that are cited as having poor support after the Volt launches. GM is working with the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and a coalition of more than 40 utilities to help work out the payment schemes.
At the Washington Auto Show, GM announced the new program. Ed Peper, GM North America vice president, Chevrolet, was on hand, stating, "Collaborating with communities such as San Francisco and metropolitan areas such as Washington, D.C. - where there's already an interest in plug-in vehicles - is another important step toward raising customer awareness of the environmental and economic benefits of vehicles such as the Volt. The Chevy Volt is truly coming to life, but preparing the market for electric vehicles also requires capable partners from outside the auto industry. Momentum is building as governments, technology companies, communities and universities are increasingly working together to prepare the market for electric vehicles."
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom comments, "Cities have an indispensable role in making plug-in vehicles successful. Here in San Francisco, we are acting now to make sure the charging infrastructure will be available to support these vehicles as soon as they are ready for sale, and we are working with other cities in the region to make the Bay Area a thriving market for electric transportation."
San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland announced in November that they were planning a new infrastructure for plug-ins and would be offering incentives to purchasers. Those incentives would come in addition to the $7,500 tax credit that the government is offering to those who purchase the Volt, in order to try to boost the domestic EV market.
While the other domestic automakers are very committed to electric vehicles as well, it’s hard to argue that GM is blazing the trail for the other manufacturers and is putting much more of its future success and image on the line. At GM, most believe this is a good thing, though.
"We know plenty of work still remains, both within and outside of GM,” adds Peper. “But today's and other recent announcements underscore the comprehensive work being done to bring the Chevrolet Volt and other electrically driven vehicles to market - and they also highlight why we are so optimistic about the ultimate success of the Volt."