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USA: I-5 in Oregon gets charging stations for electric cars

The first major stretch of what’s been dubbed an “Electric Highway” on the West Coast from Canada to Mexico went operational Friday with the opening of a series of fast-charging stations along 160 miles of the interstate.

The eight stations stretch from the California border north to the Oregon city of Cottage Grove and are located at gas stations, restaurants and motels just off I-5, the nation’s second-busiest interstate. One station is at an inn that was once a stage coach stop.

They are spaced about every 25 miles, so a Nissan Leaf with a range of about 70 miles can miss one station and still make it to the next. Electric car drivers will be able to recharge in about 20 minutes. The charge is free for now.

“I would say range-anxiety with these fast chargers will be nearly a non-issue for me,” said Justin Denley, who owns a Nissan Leaf. Inspired by the stations, his family is planning a trip from Medford to Portland, a distance of about 280 miles.

Last summer, he took the family on a 120-mile trip to the coast and had to include an overnight stop at an RV park to charge up.

Ashley Horvat, who oversees the highway electrification project for the state, drove an electric car from her office in Salem 225 miles to Central Point for ceremonies and a caravan of electric cars kicking off the installation.

“We are hoping we are setting the stage for what will become the first highway, but not necessarily the only highway that is electrified,” she said.

The state is working with AeroVironment, Inc., the Monrovia, Calif., company that makes the charging stations, on the project.


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