Car plug-ins going statewide: Charleston group picks maker for recharger units
November 2, 2010
The Charleston group that is driving the effort to develop a statewide network of recharging stations for electric vehicles is getting set to kick the project into high gear.
Plug In Carolina said Monday that it has picked industrial giant Eaton Corp. to make the units to be installed in eight South Carolina cities.
The job previously was to be handled by another manufacturer, California-based AeroVironment. Cleveland-based Eaton was brought in because it has "the ability to meet the immediate needs of the project," Plug In Carolina said Monday.
"We are thrilled that Eaton was in a position to step up and ensure that this important green transportation initiative stays on track," said James Poch, the nonprofit group's executive director. "With their help, we look forward to positioning South Carolina as one of the first EV-ready states in the country."
The public charging stations are to be deployed in Charleston, Columbia, Myrtle Beach, Blythewood, Union, Greenville, Spartanburg and Rock Hill. They will cost between $3,000 and $6,000 each to purchase and install, Poch said.
"We are pre-wiring right now garages in most of the cities," he said.
The locations in Charleston are still being finalized.
Poch said about 75 to 80 recharging units should be available around the state for electric vehicle drivers to use by the end of the first quarter of 2011. A kickoff event is being scheduled for next month.
"It's important because the market is going to deliver a choice of cleaner domestic vehicles that actually offer very good performance," Poch said.
Plug In Carolina has noted that every major automaker has some form of an electric car in production and that consumers are being offered tax credits to spur sales. One of the key drawbacks for the industry is "range anxiety," or the worry that a vehicle will run out of juice before making it to a charging station.
Poch said the South Carolina rollout is being timed to coincide with the regional launches early next year of two highly anticipated electric cars: the Chevrolet Volt and the Nissan Leaf.
"We're expecting a deluge advertising, and when that advertising hits we want South Carolinians to see we're putting this in and that it's coming," he said.
Most of the project is being funded by two federal grants totaling about $480,000 secured by the South Carolina Energy Office.
Plug In Carolina has tapped Greenville-based Utility partners of America to install and maintain the units.
Eaton plans to start making the charging stations within two weeks at its factory in Asheville, N.C., said Tim Old, business unit manger for electrical transportation and infrastructure at the Ohio-based company.
He said the South Carolina rollout is a notable deal for Eaton.
"We've done fair bit of demonstrations, but this is the first major project across multiple places, which is the key thing when you're creating the infrastructure," Old said. "This is the first example of connecting cities together."