Electric Charge Stations Receive Government Funding

Nissan’s new electric vehicle, the Leaf, will be rolled out in five test markets including San Diego, California next year. Nissan has entered into a project with the San Diego Gas & Electric Company to introduce the Leaf, and now the project has received a needed helping hand from government stimulus funding.

President Obama announced on August 5 that federal grant money in the millions will go toward this and other projects aimed at producing batteries and components for electric vehicles as well as the infrastructure needed to support the vehicles.

SDG&E will work with eTec of Phoenix, Arizona, the recipient of $99.8 million in grants. eTec will install charging stations in homes, businesses and other areas to enable Leaf drivers to conveniently charge their vehicles. The success of the electric car depends on the availability of the charging stations, and early participants in the program will receive them free of charge.

Chargers themselves cost about $1,000, with additional fees for installation. The grant money given to eTec will be used in all five test markets to be sure the infrastructure needed for the Leaf is in place.

The grant money eTec received will not go toward production of the Leaf; however, the five test regions will be investing $99.8 million of their own money to develop electric car technology and purchase the vehicles.

Some of the first cities to receive charger networks will be San Diego, Seattle, Oregon, Arizona and Tennessee. After initial placement, usage will be analyzed and additional placement will depend on that data.

The Leaf electric car project is partially a fact-finding mission to examine driver use of electric vehicles and how the cars will affect the use of electricity in the test areas.

SDG&E is planning to test a device developed by Juice Technologies of Ohio. The device will allow electric car drivers to recharge anywhere in SDG&E territory and put the usage on their SDG&E account. This will provide valuable information on charging patterns for each individual using the device.

The medium-sized Leaf is capable of 100 mile trips on a full charge. Nissan plans to price it at between $20,000 and $30,000 which is comparable to sticker prices on the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry.

SDG&E plans to buy 15 to 20 of the vehicles. Nissan is currently taking names on its website to determine who will be able to buy a Leaf, and plans an even distribution among business, government and individual users.

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