Lujack Chevy became the first area Chevrolet dealer and Quad-City dealership to install an Electric Vehicle, or EV, charging station — a move that is firing up local leaders interested in seeing the technology expand across the Quad-Cities.
Under the glare of media cameras Thursday, Darrin Plett, a journeyman electrician with Davenport Electric Contract Co., installed a Level 2 EV charger inside the service department of Lujack Chevy.
“This is what it would look like in your garage,” Gwen Tombergs, Lujack’s marketing director, said during a news conference at the Davenport dealership. “As you can see, it takes 10 minutes to install once electric is run.”
Tombergs said the station was installed in anticipation of the arrival of the new Chevy Volt, which is expected to be on Lujack’s lots in the next couple months. The dealer also will sell the Nissan Leaf, but she said its arrival “is farther down the line.”
“Of course, we’ll have to charge our own cars, but this is also for the public’s use,” she said of the new charging station. “If you’re in town and you need to charge your car, you could come up here and charge it.”
The SPX EL-50580 Voltec charging station supplies electric energy for electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid (electric-gas vehicles), semi-static and mobile electrical units. Tombergs said an average charge with a Level 2 EV charger takes about four hours. “(A charger) also comes with the car, but with those it takes about 10 hours to charge.”
The charging station was hailed by the Quad-City chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association, or NECA, which partnered with Lujack’s to advance the charging infrastructure. “We are excited to help lay the groundwork and facilitate bringing this technology to the Quad-City area,” said Steve Chesley, the chapter’s executive manager. “We’re just trying to get the Quad-Cities to look to the future. So many cities just sit and wait and see what other cities are doing first.”
Chesley said the Chevy Volt is the first major EV car to be hitting the market, but all the major manufacturers are expected to launch their own models by the end of 2012.
With more electric cars being introduced, the high price of gasoline and government incentives available for EV car buyers, Chesley said “This is going to be a very viable market.”
Davenport Mayor Bill Gluba also hopes to see EV charging stations installed across downtown Davenport, although plans to do so have not been finalized. “We’re a green city and we’re going to build upon that,” he said.
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Among the ideas he and other city officials have been discussing informally is to install charging stations to create a revenue stream to replace the income lost when the city removed its downtown parking meters earlier this year. With the new revenue, he said “we could use it to pay off some of the bonds on the parking ramps.”
Gluba said he also is looking into the possibility of installing wind turbines along the riverfront to generate electricity to power the charging stations. “That’s the idea, whether it’s going to happen I don’t know. But my prediction is by 2015 you’re going to see a lot of electric cars around town and they’re going to need to be charged somewhere.”
Molly Arp Newell, president of EnviroNet, a Davenport environmental consulting firm, said the firm has been hired by Delta Institute to identify locations in the Quad-Cities that could be used as EV charging demonstration sites. “We’d like it to be on a brownfield site,” she said, adding that EnviroNet is looking at areas near where the public now gathers for a two- to three-hour period. “Having locations to plug the vehicles in is the key.”
She said the research is creating the groundwork for obtaining future grant funding.
Meanwhile, Chesley said NECA has been working with its contractor members for more than a year so they are prepared to install the new technology. He said about five local contractors are certified to install the chargers and even more are in the approval process.
Plett, the electrician, said an average home will be able to accommodate the power needed for an in-house EV charging station. “It draws about half (the electricity) of a dryer or an average air conditioning unit.”