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USA: Ambitious EV charging plaza picks up speed

A mock-up design of a proposed EV charging plaza at Vulcan Avenue and E Street. Rendering courtesy of Evoasis

ENCINITAS — In a sign of the times, a proposal calls for building the largest fast-charge EV plaza in California on the site of a former gas station.

The goal: Help more locals get over “range anxiety” — the fear of being stranded should their electric vehicle run out of juice.

The plaza took a step forward last week when the City Council agreed to consider leasing property on the corner of Vulcan Avenue and E Street to San Diego-based Evoasis. If the plan gets the OK, Evoasis would install eight EV stations on a plaza, and the land would serve as the home base for an electric car-sharing program.

As proposed, the plaza would be able to accommodate all electric vehicles, and could charge 15 cars at one time.

The 50-kilowatt charging stations will also be able to recharge the depleted batteries of models like the Nissan Leaf in as little as 30 minutes. For those electric cars that aren’t compatible with fast-charge technology, it would take around five hours for a full charge.

Typically, most electric cars can go 60 to 90 miles with a full battery.

Angus Clark, CEO of Evoasis said that Encinitas was chosen to host the plaza because a year’s worth of traffic data showed that more electric cars travel through Encinitas than anywhere else in North County. Plus, he said there’s an increasing appetite among locals for green transportation.

“Encinitas has a reputation for being eco-friendly,” Clark said. “That’s well deserved from what we’ve seen. People drive electric cars or want to.”

Clark’s company recently opened one fast-charging station in San Juan Capistrano in Orange County. He added that the Encinitas plan for eight stations in one plaza is uncharted territory for the state in terms of size.

Additionally, HulaCar, a subsidiary of Evoasis, plans to offer a free-floating rental service with 40 to 50 electric Mitsubishi iMIEV cars to close the gap between short-range travels. Similar to Car2go, the plan calls for renters to pay by the minute. Once the user is finished, cars must be left anywhere in the service territory — most of North County’s coastal corridor — and prospective renters can locate vehicles closest to them online or with a smartphone app.

Although the plaza will serve as the hub for the rental cars, Clark noted that most of the vehicles would be spread throughout North County since they can be parked anywhere in the service area, leaving most of the spaces on the property unoccupied.

Clark envisions the rental cars serving not only residents, but also businesses.

“We want to get to a point when the local pizza shop is using these cars to deliver pizza,” Clark said.

The Clinton Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to cutting greenhouse emissions, is sponsoring the project. In a letter to the city dated Jan. 17, Stephen Crolius, transportation program director of the foundation, made the case that more EV charging stations are needed to break electric vehicles into the mainstream, citing range anxiety.

“The (Encinitas) lot has several attributes that make it desirable from our perspective,” the letter states. “One, of course, is its proximity to Interstate 5. A second is the fact that it’s just a block from the Coaster station. This opens up the possibility that the charging plaza could be integrated with an EV car-sharing hub.”
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