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USA: Charging ahead: After six-month delay, Leafs, stations branch out

Mike Gondek, service manager for Mountain View Nissan, explains some of the unique features on the all-electric Nissan Leaf while examining his car Tuesday. Gondek purchased the car in May.
Staff Photo by Dan Henry /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

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The effort to install electric vehicle chargers is expected to amp up in coming months in the Chattanooga area, though some say the initiative has been slow to roll out.

“My understanding is that they are at least six months behind in getting the sites in place,” said Jonathan Overly of the East Tennessee Clean Fuels Coalition.

But the area manager for the company overseeing the installation, Ecotality, said work is proceeding “at a very steady pace.”

“We’re confident all the charging stations will be in by the end of the year. I feel it is on time,” said Stephanie Cox of San Francisco-based Ecotality, which is responsible for implementing the stimulus-funded project in Tennessee.

However, while announcements were made last August about the installation of chargers at Ruby Falls and Rock City, the devices are yet to be installed. The charging stations could be in place this summer, however, according to the attractions.

According to Cox, the DoubleTree Hotel on Chestnut Street in March installed the only commercially available site so far in Chattanooga.

Tom Dugan, CARTA’s executive director and a member of a regional advisory board on the project, said the project has taken longer than anticipated. But Dugan cited the slowness in the appearance of Nissan’s Leaf electric vehicle in the United States.

The car has been slow to roll out in the U.S. partly because Nissan allocated much of its inventory to the Japanese market to take advantage of big incentives there, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Last week, the Journal reported Nissan expects to sell 10,000 to 12,000 Leafs this year in the United States, which is well below earlier expectations.

Still, officials at both Hunt Nissan and Mountain View Nissan in Chattanooga said they’ve already sold and delivered several Leafs to customers.
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