Chattanooga to lead in plug-in electric cars

Chattanooga to lead in plug-in electric cars

August 5th, 2009 by Judy Walton in Local - Breaking News

A $99.8 million grant will help Chattanooga become one of the first cities in the nation to roll out commercial electric vehicle charging stations.

A $99.8 million grant announced this morning by the White House will allow Phoenix-based Electric Transportation Engineering Corp. to roll out charging stations coordinated with the debut of 5,000 Nissan plug-in electric vehicles in the fall of 2010, an eTec spokesman said.

"You guys are going to be one of the first five markets to have this infrastructure installed," spokesman Colin Read said in a telephone interview from Phoenix.

He said the partnership between eTec and Nissan is "largest deployment of electric vehicles and infrastructure undertaken."

The company will spend up to $20 million for the initial rollout in Chattanooga, Nashville and Knoxville. The technology will come online at the same time in San Diego, Phoenix/Tucson, Eugene/Corvallis/Salem/Portland in Oregon and Seattle/Puget Sound in Washington, Mr. Read said.

The grant from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act will pay for a network of 2,500 charging stations for Nissan's Leaf zero-emission electric vehicle, according to a release from the automaker.

Mr. Read said most will be "Level 2" stations in public, residential and commercial areas that will charge an electric vehicle in four to eight hours.

In other areas, eTec will install "strategic fast charge" stations that can provide a charge in less than 30 minutes. Some of those might be installed at gas stations or travel plazas.

The release stated that Nissan will study vehicle use and the effectiveness of charging infrastructure, and will experiment with revenue systems for commercial and public charging infrastructure.

The ARRA grant requires a 50 percent match, and Mr. Read said eTec's 40 strategic partners will share in the cost. Nissan said the total investment is $199.6 million.

"This is a major step in promoting zero-emission mobility in the United States. Nissan is looking forward to partnering with eTec to help make electric cars a reality and to help establish the charging networks in key markets" said Scott Becker, Nissan's North American vice president, legal and general counsel.

See Thursday's Times Free Press for complete coverage.