Long roadtrips in electric vehicles will soon be a possible in Washington as the state prepares to build the nation's first "Electric Highway."
State transportation officials yesterday chose Southern California-based AeroVironment to take part in the project, which will include the installation of quick charge stations throughout Washington's entire stretch of I-5. The private company will also be joined by the EV Project -- a federal program managed by the Department of Energy to increase EV infrastructure in the U.S.
"A network of charging stations linking Washington to Oregon and Canada will make electric vehicles more attractive to consumers and businesses, and transportation better for the environment," said Paula Hammond, Washington secretary of transportation.
The AeroVironment quick charging stations will have the ability to charge an EV's depleted battery in less than 30 minutes. A low-cost option will also be available, but increases the charge time to 4-6 hours. Drivers should be able to find a station every 40-60 miles, which should be an attainable range for current and upcoming EVs such as the Nissan Leaf, Ford Focus and the Mitsubishi i. It also means EV owners in the state will be able to take long, emissions-free road trips including the 141-mile trek from Seattle to Vancouver, British Columbia.
The Electric Highway should be completed by the end of November with a total cost of $2.3 million, not including a $1.3 million government grant. The project is part of the West Coast Green Highway, an initiative among government officials from Washington, Oregon, California, and British Columbia to provide charging stations along the 1,350-mile stretch of I-5 from Canada to Mexico.