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Electric cars in Atlanta

Electric vehicle (EV) charging stations are multiplying in metro Atlanta thanks, in part, to a push from the city and federal subsidies. Today, an EV enthusiast writes about his experience driving around town and finding a charge when needed. The city’s sustainability director cheers their environmental impact. But a conservative transportation policy expert says the numbers just don’t add up.

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Economical and “a blast to drive”

By Chris Campbell

I am an electric vehicle (EV) owner and enthusiast, one of thousands in the metro Atlanta area, and in recent months I’ve been overjoyed to see EV charging stations popping up all over town.

Electric vehicles are incredibly efficient, producing less total emissions than gas cars even if you include the power plant emissions. They are blissfully cheap to operate — the electricity costs only about $20 per month. And these cars are an absolute blast to drive, with full torque at zero RPM, and a joyful surprise to anyone who takes the time to take a test drive.

Great, but what about the charging? The lion’s share of your charging is done at home, overnight. You plug in when you get home, just like you plug in your cell phone. Every morning I leave the house with a full “tank” of electric charge in my Chevy Volt, giving me 40 miles of essentially free driving before the gas engine kicks in. For the occasional days that I drive more than 40 miles, I just burn some gas. But on most days I get home under electric power, don’t need to charge anywhere, and don’t burn any gas. I frequently go weeks without burning a drop of gas — and a tank of gas normally lasts me several months. Other electric cars like the Nissan Leaf, Ford Focus Electric and Tesla Model S can go much farther with a full battery.

My Chevy Volt carries the gasoline engine as a backup, so I personally don’t really need to charge up at any public charging sites. But the truth is that the Volt is more fun to drive when it is in electric mode, so I want to charge up when I can. The public charging stations attract me to those businesses — for example, I have been going to Lenox Square and Manuel’s Tavern far more often now that they have the charging stations on site.


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