Faster charger sites
› Chattanooga Choo Choo
› Harvest Grocery
› Hampton Inn, Tiftonia
› Hilton Garden Inn, Hamilton Place
Chattanooga is among a group of strategic cities nationwide to see new electric vehicle chargers with which users can fully amp up the batteries in about 30 minutes or less.
"The units are state-of-the-art DC fast chargers," said Rock Henderson of GoSpace, which oversaw site selection for the units at three hotel properties and a grocery store in the area.
The Chattanooga chargers are part of a larger initiative around the nation financed by Nissan, which is the maker of the Tennessee-produced LEAF electric car, Henderson said.
"The infrastructure has to be there," he said about electric car use. "You have to have the infrastructure in place to address range anxiety."
The chargers feature a large monitor to make them user friendly, Henderson said. Also, there are two parking spaces for each charger — one for a user and the other for the next in line, he said.
"We want a positive charging experience," he said about the units, adding that they will work for all electric cars.
Henderson said Chattanooga was picked because it's "an active and invigorating market. We thought there would be a tremendous response to building the infrastructure."
Nashville, Atlanta, Detroit and Pittsburgh are some of the other cities holding the chargers, he said.
"They're doing this in strategic cities in the U.S.," Henderson said, who declined to indicate how much Nissan is spending.
While there is typically a $10 to $12 cost per full charge, incentives will cut that price by some amount or altogether, Henderson said.
Jeff Mochel, a regional vice president of Vision Hospitality Group, said his company is not making any money off of the chargers at its Hamilton Place and Tiftonia sites, but he's seeing a lot of good guest feedback.
"With technology changing the way it is and pushing over 200 miles [on a charge] and continuing to get better and better, there will be more people traveling with them," he said.
Adam Kinsey, president of the Chattanooga Choo Choo Partners LP, said the Choo Choo jumped at the chance to be involved with Nissan and the electric car stations.
"I've seen electric vehicles use it," he said. "We feel like it's a great amenity for locals coming to visit the restaurant or other attractions at the Choo Choo or tourists who need to recharge at night."
Chattanoogan Jim Frierson, who consulted with Henderson on the project, said the sites are "showcase locations."
Frierson noted the irony of such advanced transportation equipment located at what is the city's historic train station turned hotel.
"It's our legacy," said Frierson, founder of strategic consulting firm Compass Innovation and a proponent of electric-drive vehicle technologies since the mid-1990s.
Nissan is working with EV Go, a subsidiary of NRG Energy that's helping to build an electric vehicle charging network.
Plans are to officially unveil the new Chattanooga chargers within a few weeks. Those units will join chargers placed in the Chattanooga area earlier this decade by another company.
San Francisco-based ECOtality launched an effort to install thousands of chargers in Tennessee homes, businesses and municipalities. It was part of a $230 million, five-state electric vehicle project by the U.S. Department of Energy. More than 30 were slated for Hamilton County.
Contact Mike Pare at email@example.com or 423-757-6318.