New Delaware project caters to electric car drivers

Electric vehicle drivers in Delaware can now look forward to more charging stations by 2015. In fact, the stations are expected to charge two to three times faster for long distance drivers making a trip easier from Wilmington to Bethany Beach for an example.

The effort is a partnership between the University of Delaware and the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control where officials plan to place six charging stations near heavily traveled roads.

“No longer will any Delawarean or visiting owners of electric vehicles have to worry about running out of electricity while traveling in the First State,” said DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara.

According to University of Delaware researchers who will assist in equipment installation, the important step right now is determining the most effective locations for the 16-kilowatt charging stations.

“A well-planned electrical highway in Delaware makes it easier for drivers of electric cars both from Delaware and surrounding states to patronize Delaware tourist destinations – from nightlife on the Riverfront to popular shopping districts to our beaches,” said Nancy Targett, dean of UD’s College of Earth, Ocean and Environment.

UD researchers say people often hesitate to purchase electric vehicles due to fear that their battery will run out of charge. However, the project will make sure that doesn’t happen to drivers because charging stations in the state will not be more than 50 miles apart since electric cars on average can’t travel more than that on roadways. Charging a battery whether it’s empty or in need of a full charge can take as little as 20 minutes depending on the car model or up to 2 hours if much charge is needed for a particular destination.

“Delaware is setting up charging stations in a smart way, which is surprisingly more cost-effective than each electric car buyer getting a big battery,” said Willett Kempton, an expert in alternative energy and professor in UD’s College of Earth, Ocean and Environment Department.

Although electric vehicles reduce the need for gasoline and don’t release air pollution or carbon dioxide, existing incentives are making the cars more appealing these days as well because people can take advantage of a federal purchase credit.

Meanwhile the UD-DNREC project is budgeted at $80-thousand and though it’s still in the preliminary stages, the battery charging service is expected to be free to users initially, but there could be a fee to cover any ongoing costs once the project is completed.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal