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USA: Electric vehicles, Zipcar to bolster state fleet

The state of Illinois hopes to reduce its reliance on an aging vehicle fleet by taking delivery of 15 electric cars this summer and by offering state employees a chance to participate in a car-sharing program.

Both initiatives were outlined at a daylong forum on electric vehicles held Monday at the Executive Mansion in Springfield.

“The governor would like to add many, many EVs to our fleet,” said Eric Heineman, sustainability policy adviser to Gov. Pat Quinn.

The state will use $445,500 in federal economic stimulus funds to buy 15 Mitsubishi electrics at $29,700 each.

Heineman said the state also has started a partnership with Zipcar Inc., an international car-sharing service, to reduce reliance on state-owned vehicles. There are four Zipcar stations in Springfield for use by state employees — two at the Amtrak station and two at the Statehouse, Heineman said.

“We’d like to take away as many cars as possible that have over a certain number of miles on them that are too expensive to maintain,” said Heineman. “But we can’t afford new cars, so we’re moving toward the Zipcar model.”

About half of the electric vehicles will be in the Chicago region, since that’s where most of the charging stations are, according to Heineman.

The American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest also is working with the Illinois secretary of state’s office to begin tracking electric-vehicle purchases by vehicle identification and plate numbers, said Angela Tin, vice president of environmental health.

““We want to know where the cars are now because we want to know where the infrastructure needs to be,” said Tin.

Most commercial charging stations in Illinois are along the tollway system in Chicago, but forum participants said the number will increase downstate as consumer demand for electric vehicles increases.

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Qik n EZ could add charging stations

Qik n EZ is exploring the possibility of electric-vehicle charging stations at its convenience stores across central and northern Illinois, two executives with the Springfield company said Monday.

“We want to be ready for it. We want to offer that choice to our customers and our communities,” said vice president of retail operations Wendy Chronister.

Chronister and her father, company founder Grady Chronister, said they attended a forum on electric vehicles held at the Executive Mansion in Springfield on Monday to gather information on the spread of the technology.

Wendy Chronister said Qik n EZ has done only preliminary research on the type of vehicles and charging stations that could be used. Installation will depend on how quickly demand for electric vehicles develops, they said.
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