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USA: Public charging stations fuel desire for electric cars

Atlanta (CNN) — Sometimes gawkers stare from the sidewalk. Other times they walk right up to Linn Murphy’s car and peer around.

“A lot of people just don’t know,” Murphy said. “A lot of people say, ‘Isn’t that gas?'”

Scott Goss wanted an electric car for years. When he saw the same public charging station in Atlanta, “I freaked out.”

Now Goss drives a red Chevy Volt. He named it Sparkie. It runs on electricity the first 40 miles of each charge and sips gas after that.

Between Sparkie and the free public charging station, which is powered by solar panels, Goss saves about $130 a month in fuel.

“It was like they were giving me free gas,” he said.

Public charging stations are sprouting up across the country, often backed by public-private partnerships or businesses trying to lure customers who are waiting for their cars to charge.
Aashish Mehta lives in an apartment and would have no way to fuel up without Atlantic Station\’s public car chargers.
Aashish Mehta lives in an apartment and would have no way to fuel up without Atlantic Station’s public car chargers.

They’re also a lifeline for apartment and condo residents who want an electric car but have no way of charging them at home.

“I’m glad I found a charging station next to my apartment. I would have no options, living in an apartment,” Atlanta resident Aashish Mehta said.

Murphy, who lives in a condo building, carefully researched where he could plug in before buying his Nissan Leaf, a fully electric car that runs about 110 miles on a full charge.

But relying on public charging stations can come with inconveniences.

Instead of spending a few minutes filling up at a gas station, electric drivers running on empty must plug in for hours to get a full charge — though you can still “top off” an electric car by plugging in for a few minutes.

Those who have charging systems at home can simply leave their cars plugged in overnight. But for electric owners trying to get a full charge at a public station, the wait could be three or four hours.

That’s where the placement of public stations is vital — not just for drivers, but for businesses that can cash in by luring drivers to their stores.
Charging an electric car is much like filling up with gas, as Randy Stanley demonstrates with his Nissan Leaf.
Charging an electric car is much like filling up with gas, as Randy Stanley demonstrates with his Nissan Leaf.

Though Goss now has a charging system at home, he prefers to plug in at Atlantic Station, a mixed-use development in Atlanta that has a grocery store, department stores, bars and restaurants.

“I’m usually here for three to four hours anyway,” running errands or eating, he said.

Andy Wood, who bought an electric vehicle, or EV, to help the environment, makes a special effort to support businesses that provide him “free gas.”
More cnn.com

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