Science & Technology
5:43 pm
Mon November 7, 2011

Region Moves to Facilitate Use of Electric Vehicles

Electric vehicle charging stations are being installed around the Pittsburgh area, with nine likely in use by next spring. The Eaton Corporation announced that they will eventually install 45 stations along Interstate 376, which they say will move Pittsburgh to the forefront nationwide in promoting this technology.

John White, Program Manager for Acquisition Integration at Eaton, said that installations along the parkway will make all of the stations useful and accessible.

"To really get something like this started, you can't have these things kind of sporadically put out there. The main interest is to get some concentration," White said. "So we really focused on one of the main arteries here in Pittsburgh."

Some of the locations in the first phase of installments include the airport, Eaton Corporation, Bayer Corporation, the University of Pittsburgh, UPMC, and the Pittsburgh Zoo.

White said that growth in this market can only be achieved through a balance of vehicles and charging stations. Without stations, vehicles are useless, and vice versa. White said that electric vehicles will become more plausible with a power source away from home.

"Where you're going to see a lot of the charging take place is probably at home, in many cases," White said. "We think that as people purchase electric vehicles, charge them at home, and come to work, they have the ability then to recharge them at work and be able to get back home again essentially without ever having to touch a drop of gasoline."

White said that a full charge will cost $1.60 for 16 kilowatt hours, comparable to 80¢ a gallon for gasoline, which would take a Chevy Volt around 38 miles. He said that they are installing two types of stations: one which will charge a car in 4 hours, and another that would do the same in 15-30 minutes.

The airport charging stations at Enterprise Rental will allow travelers to explore the new technology according to White. He said that people might find it more attractive to rent these electric hybrid vehicles than to invest $30-40,000 long term on one.