2012 Ford Focus Electric launch, New York City, January 2011 - charging pointEnlarge Photo
Construction workers digging a hole at a rest stop doesn't sound like something that would be of interest to electric-car owners. But the end result of their efforts might be.
This is because work has begun in preparing Washington stretch of the I5 to become an "Electric highway". Whilst this sounds like something George Jetson or Philip J. Fry would use to get to work, the reality is much more in the here and now, (but just as futuristic).
The idea is simply that every 40 to 60 miles along the freeway, a rest stop will offer a fast charger to allow electric vehicles to recharge their batteries so they can make longer trips.
The task at the moment is just to get the electrical cabling into place. Then, in the summer, the charging units will be fitted. It is hoped that by then there will be a little more clarity on what connector they should use.
Fast Charging 2011 Nissan LeafEnlarge Photo
We hope the charging stations will be the Level 3 type that you would expect with the term "rapid charger", but they also may also be the slower level 2 240V fast chargers you see in shopping malls or installed in homes. At the moment, only the 2011 Nissan Leaf can make use of the 30 minute recharge to 80% offered by the Level 3 rapid chargers. Next year, the 2012 Mitsubishi i will also support the technology, but all other electric cars on the market only support the slower Level 2 charging stations.
Regardless of type or speed the charge points will undoubtedly be welcome to any electric vehicle owner wishing to extend the range of their car beyond the distance one single charge can provide.