Dallas Charges Up for the Electric Chevy

chevyvolt.jpg

If they build it, will we come? Planners, utilities, auto industry execs, and retailers are hopeful that we will, as they get themselves ready for electric vehicles in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. This isn’t a pie-in-the-sky vision for the future. The reality is unfolding right now. In 2011, NRG Energy will install upwards of 70 car-charging stations across Dallas and Forth Worth. As the Nissan Leaf and the Chevy Volt begin to penetrate the D/FW market, NRG aims to capture the revenue stream from charging car batteries here, just it is doing in Houston. NRG’s news comes on the heels of electric utility TXU Energy's announcement of its own installation of twelve public charging stations being allocated across Dallas and Fort Worth.

I’ve been watching the wave for several years as part of my work with emerging companies. At numerous conferences on electric vehicles, I've observed stakeholders - many of them in competition with each other - come together to swap ideas, network, and hammer out standards. It's been an education in the necessity of collaboration to foster sustainable development.

Cooperation hasn’t been guided by idealism so much as by the urge to survive in a market that, until recently, was practically non-existent. Start-ups that have failed to collaborate have fallen by the wayside. As one conference speaker joked, “We’ve got to build up the market before we tear each other down.”

Profit-making may be the motivation of electric-vehicle manufacturers, but others at the table have their own agendas for EV readiness. The city of Dallas, for example, is in Serious Nonattainment status for ozone pollution. The region risks losing funding if it doesn't clean up its air. “Seventy percent of air pollution in Dallas comes from on-road/off-road vehicles, so EVs can play a substantial role in resolving this,” said Jennifer Cohen, Executive Director for the North Texas Clean Air Coalition. Cohen was an organizer of the Electric Vehicle North Texas Electric Vehicle Showcase last September at the State Fair of Texas.

At the Electric Vehicle Showcase. Betsy del Monte, Director of Sustainability for Dallas-based construction giant BECK told a panel, “Mass transit alone cannot solve our problem. We also need to look at the broader picture in terms of development. Of the palette of materials that we have available, EVs are one of the tools we must come to rely on.”

Tom Reddoch, Director of Energy Efficiency for Electric Power Research Institute, agreed: “This is a success story. EPRI is connecting two giants, the electric industry with the auto industry.” To assist stakeholders with the information they need to build communities that can sustain a transition to electric vehicles, EPRI sees three keys: regionally-driven consumer attitudes, the installation of charging infrastructure in order to ensure a positive response for the drivers’ first experiences, and utility readiness. “We have plenty of capacity to go around, especially if people charge at night,” said Reddoch, “but there could be localized effects where cars cluster. The construction community, developers, and architects need to address this together.”

At a technical level, tools are emerging that can help integrate electric vehicles into the transportation landscape. “We’ve arrived at an interesting nexus between the power industry and the auto industry,” said Brad Gammons of IBM. “There is not going to be a dominant leader so we need standards across the value chain… Collaboration ensures that things happen efficiently.”

Not all collaboration requires complex software. Some of it is happening on the ground, person to person. The installation of electric vehicle charging infrastructure in D/FW is giving two cities with a long (if friendly) rivalry a chance to mutually benefit by working together. “To get the mayor of Fort Worth to travel to Dallas to talk about EVs is huge,” said Jim Greer of Oncor electricity.

Range anxiety continues to be a barrier to electric vehicle adoption, even though three-fourths of Americans commute less than 40 miles per day. “To handle range anxiety, we need to provide home-based charging capability,” said del Monte from BECK.

At the same time, Half Price Books unveiled Dallas’ first public charging station. Granted, there’s not a line around the block for the EV charger yet. But just having it at one of Dallas’ most popular bookstores sends a tangible signal to drivers that the future is here and now.

As the infrastructure falls into place, the question remains: Will drivers buy the cars? We’ll find out very soon. The Chevy Volt is scheduled to arrive on car dealers’ lots in Dallas-Fort Worth in March.

Photo of the Chevy Volt, a plug-in electric vehicle by IFCAR

Anna Clark is the author of Green, American Style and the president of EarthPeople. She lives in one of Dallas’ first residences to earn a Platinum-LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.



















Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Electric Cars

Electric cars are going to be the best invention by the automotive industry. The electric cars are becoming so popular in the industry. It is because of the hike in the price of petrol and diesel. The electric cars are less expensive in terms of their charging expenses. People are very much satisfied with the electric vehicles. Chevrolet Volt is the most exciting and efficient model of electric car developed and manufactured by Chevrolet Motors. Volkswagen repair Diamond Bar

This is very interesting

This is very interesting content! I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your points and have come to the conclusion that you are right about many of them. You are great.
Medical Assistant Training - Salary, Jobs, Certification & Schools - PGAM.org

RE

As much as I want to embrace alternatives to burning gas and destroying our planet, I just don't see this as the solution. It still pollutes heavily via the batteries that are thrown away. Being a dallas plastic surgeon, I am blessed with the finances to afford a vehicle that is right for the environment. Now I just await a vehicle that appropriately achieves that.

I always thought that

I always thought that electric cars are the future. If we use them, we will protect the environment against the pollution. Because of this result I am thinking to buy an electric car next year. Now I have a car class b rv, I am very happy with it and I am hoping that until next year the company will release an electric version.

Will charging stations work with all vehicles?

One of the problems with the Chicago approach was that their city chargers only accommodated Japanese cars like the Leaf, but not the Volt.
Has D/FW sorted this problem out?

Dallas Charges Up

I presume they can charge up overnight from the mains supply.

Also, a NZ technology allows charging from a plate just below the surface using "radio" to transfer the energy. Such plates under the tarmac in parking spaces would allow the car to be recharged as part of the parking charge. Just use your card to pay the total bill.

See:
https://researchspace.auckland.ac.nz/bitstream/handle/2292/232/232.pdf?s...
This is for an application to a cable loop - ideal for replacing overhead cables for buses. Such a bus is running in Rotorua NZ.
Earlier systems power factory vehicles in production lines in Japan. The forklifts etc both use the underfloor cables for power supply and as guidance systems.

It seems that these systems plus solar power roof panels in the car can reduce the need for charging at service stations and get rid of one of the main disadvantages of electric cars – their short range on a single charge.

The main point is that a bundle of technologies are emerging to make the electric car a viable alternative.
A big boost for nuclear power of course.

Owen McShane, Kaiwaka, New Zealand.
Director, Centre for Resource Management Studies.
http://www.rmastudies.org.nz/

Chevy Volt

2 years ago I ordered a Volt. Two days ago I test drove one here in Minnesota just before the snowstorm hit.

To heat the car, the engine ran all the time during the test drive...

The car is loaded with everything standard. I did notice a lot of irritating wind noise at highway speeds, and the car seemed harsh. My wifes Corolla seemed quicker, smoother and rode better. That said the electonics and display of the Volt are some of the nicest I've seen on the car.

Minnesota gets the Volt later on, this was one the dealer bought in another state for peple to test drive. Do I still want a Volt? Not sure yet, I'm better off waiting till the technology shows up in more choices I think and the bugs are worked out. Since the engine runs to heat the thing in frigid Minnesota I'm not sure what the huge benefit would be.

The car was not 'fun' to drive either...

just comments.

Man, How cold was it to turn the ICE on?

Lyle spent an hour driving 25 miles with the heat on high through a snow storm before his ICE turned on. And we were disappointed that his AER was so low in freezing weather and backed up traffic. LOL.
You may have been driving a glitched car because I have read a lot about the cars cold weather features and none of the people in Michigan or New York are reporting anything other than the ICE sometimes turning on for 3 or 4 minutes then turning off if the car is parked outdoors and not plugged in.
Cars with aero as good as the Volt are usually quiet not noisy. I have driven Volts but only up to 40 mph so I can't say much about highway speed but the car seems to be very well put together, very good fit and finish and a peppy, albeit not neck snapping acceleration.
But it is a compromise and having both 16 kWh of batteries and an ICE means it is heavy at 3770 pounds. For me the shortcomings are that the AER falls short of 40 miles too frequently. Less important, since it is used so seldom, the charge sustaining mode only gets 35 to 38 mpg. The car sure does handle well though with all the weight down low.
Ziv

Great car, old, out of date photo

Anna, this article would have been more impressive if you hadn't let the graphics people use a picture of the old Chevy volt prototype. It wouldn't have hurt to do a bit more of a riff on the pros and cons of the Leaf (dowdy, but a 70-80 mile AER with an after tax credit price of $25,000 and no exhaust pipe at all) vs. the Volt (faintly sporty, peppy, drive all day, with the first 35-40 miles AER then the generator kicks in so you can drive all day, but it costs $34,000 after tax credit) At the current production rate predictions, the tax credit will last for 2 years for Nissan and 3 years for Chevy (at least).

Ziv

Photo's been updated.

Photo's been updated. Thanks, Ziv.

That prototype was a bad looking car!

Still wish they would bring back the old design in an SS version of the Volt. I know it would actually be slower without a new motor due to the horrendous aero, and it would have a shorter AER if they didn't increase the useable portion of the pack, but it sure is a cool looking car, especially in person!

Ziv