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Next level-charging stations begin to expand

As we celebrate Earth Day for 2012, it’s impossible not to notice that electric cars, partly championed by the environmental movement, are becoming available with more on the horizon.

While they’ve come in for a lot of criticism for their high prices, short driving range, and government subsidies, we’ve found they can cost less than half as much to operate as gas-powered cars. They use far less energy, giving them the energy equivalent of about 100 mpg.

The cars that have come out in the last year, the Nissan Leaf, the Mitsubishi i, and the Ford Focus EV, are short-range electric cars, designed for commuting within about 40 miles of their owners’ homes. That’s because there’s no widespread network of public electric-car charging stations to refill the cars if they drove farther than that. (Forget, for a moment, plug-in hybrid, or range-extended electric cars, which travel farther on gas.) Electric cars today are expected to charge in owners’ garages. And as commuters, they’re largely relegated to second-car status.

But there’s another, nascent vision for electric cars that’s beginning to gain traction: the full-function electric car with a range-on batteries alone-roughly equivalent to gas cars’. The vision has largely been promoted by Tesla and its relentless and ambitious founder Elon Musk


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