The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) and electric vehicle (EV) charging station company AeroVironment have announced the opening of the first phase of the so-called “West Coast Electric Highway” that is planned to stretch from the Mexican to Canadian border along Interstate 5.
The eventual, and fairly ambitious, goal is to have enough charging stations along the nearly 1,400 miles of I-5 that EV owners will feel confident to take long drives in their all-electric cars, which are limited in range compared to gasoline models.
How limited? Well, the top-of-the-line, nearly $70,000 Tesla Motors Model S with an 85-kilowatt-hour (kWh) battery, expected to hit the market this summer, claims a range of 300 miles. That’s close to what traditional cars can get on a full tank. But the Model S with the standard 40-kWh battery, which is $20,000 cheaper, will check in with a range around 160 miles, Tesla says. And the Nissan Leaf, which can be had for around $28,000 after government sweeteners, offers an official range of just 73 miles. Unfortunately, there simply aren’t many available charging stations for EVs along the roadside, unlike the readily available gas stations in every town.
Plus, even if charging stations were strategically placed close to highways, charging electric cars can take hours depending on the type of station being used. In order to help combat these limitations, ODOT has spaced out two types of charging stations (one regular, one DC “fast” charger) at roughly 25-mile intervals along I-5 in Southern Oregon.
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