Chicago Pushes Charging Stations as Electric Car Sales Rise in

Electric Car charging Station Chicago

Car Charging Socket / December 30, 2016

The city has learned from the 350Green fiasco it helped uncover, announcing in February new grants available for charging station equipment and installation, with funds being provided after the work is completed and the station is operational.

"I want Chicago to be the greenest city in the world, " Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement.

That appears to be at odds with the state's policies. In March 2015, two months after the inauguration of Gov. Bruce Rauner, the state of Illinois suspended the Illinois Green Fleets rebate program, which provided a $4, 000 rebate for customers of plug-in vehicles.

"We welcome the addition of more charging stations, " said Mike Claffey, spokesman for Chicago Department of Transportation.

Electric vehicles have proliferated in recent years. Most major automakers sell plug-in vehicles, which include all-electric vehicles such as the 351-mile Tesla Model S and 238-mile Chevrolet Bolt, as well as dozens of plug-in hybrids, ranging from the Chevrolet Volt to full product lines from BMW and Mercedes.

Despite incentives including a $7, 500 federal tax credit, car buyers have been slow to adopt electric vehicles, which account for less than 1 percent of all vehicles sold in the U.S. Range anxiety, or the driver's fear that an EV will run out of charge before arriving at its destination, is cited as the biggest barrier to mass adoption.

One effect of the VW funds — Chicago's portion is unknown at this time — could be to overcome range anxiety. The infrastructure improvements will consist primarily of community charging in five different sectors, ranging from multifamily homes to public parking lots, as well as a long distance highway network of fast chargers spaced about 66 miles apart on interstates such as I-75, I-94, I-80 and potentially I-90. The money will be disbursed in four 30-month cycles under Electrify America, a subsidiary of Volkswagen created to implement rules of the settlement.

This is all part of a $14.7 billion settlement agreement Volkswagen reached with the U.S. for installing cheat software in its "clean" diesel passenger vehicles. The software would turn on pollution controls during EPA emissions tests, then shut off on the road to deliver greater performance. Without the device activated, the VW diesel cars could churn out nitrous-oxide emissions up to 40 times higher than the federal limit.