The electric vehicle charging stations, which will be installed during the next month, are part of a federal pilot program.
The U.S. Department of Energy awarded a $114.8 million grant to San Francisco-based ECOtality Inc.
to deploy thousands of electric vehicle chargers across the country. Cobb will keep track of the usage for a one-year period. After that time, the federal department will determine whether it wants to continue the program.
Jennifer Still, sales manager for Day’s Chevrolet in Acworth, said every month she sells about one to two Chevrolet Volts, which is a plug-in electric car. By comparison, she sells more than 20 per month of her most popular car, the gas-powered Chevrolet Cruze.
Still said she sees a need for more charging stations.
“A lot of people are still a little skeptical, I think, and the charging stations may be part of that,” Still said. “I mean, there is a gas station on every single corner. There’s not a charging station on every single corner.”
Pike Research, which provides analysis of global clean technology markets, found that fundamental interest in plug-in vehicles declined among survey participants between 2010 and 2012.
In 2012, only 35 percent of respondents said they would be extremely or very interested in purchasing a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle or battery electric vehicle with a range of 40 to 100 miles and an electricity cost equivalent to $0.75 per gallon. In 2011, 40 percent stated they were extremely interested or very interested in this type of vehicle, which was down slightly from 44 percent in 2010.
Pike projects by the end of the year nearly 400,000 plug-in electric vehicles will be driving on roads worldwide.
It also predicts worldwide sales of electric vehicle to reach 3.8 million annually by 2020.
“Sales of EVs have not lived up to automakers’ expectations and politicians’ proclamations, but the market is expanding steadily as fuel prices remain high and consumers increasingly seek alternatives to internal combustion engines,” a Pike researcher reports.
Daniel McDuff, deputy director of the Cobb Department of Transportation, said his department thought the charging stations were a good fit for the county’s park-and-ride lots.
“This would be a tool we could use to determine the future needs at other park-and-ride locations throughout the county,” he said.
He said another benefit is that it provides support for alternative fuel vehicles that use the county’s park-and-ride lots at no charge to them.
“This could support more use of transit for these customers,” he said.
The charging stations will be installed at the Marietta park-and-ride lot off South Marietta Parkway and at the Busbee park-and-ride lot near Kennesaw State University’s soccer stadium.
Four charging stations will be installed at each location. They will likely be the kind that stand alone with one charging socket similar to the one at the Walgreens by the Marietta Square. At the end of the year, the county can arrange to maintain the stations or remove them, McDuff said.
“We will make that decision as we near that time based on use and demand for this resource,” he said.
McDuff said a plus to having the charging stations at the park-and-ride lots is that it allows CCT riders to charge their electric vehicles while they’re riding CCT to their destinations.
“This can amount to a significant charge because of the time away from their vehicle,” he said.
By contrast, charging stations located at grocery stores or other locations in the county will only give drivers a minimum charge because they don’t park them there for an extended period of time, he said.
Stephanie Cox, an area manager with ECOtality, said the plan for Georgia is to install more than 300 charging stations mostly in the 70-mile radius of the city of Atlanta by this summer.
Nationwide the company has already installed more than 9,000, she said.
“The community itself has really embraced this project. From the Buckhead Coalition to Livable Buckhead, Midtown Alliance, this has really been a community-led effort to embrace the EV project and demonstrate that Atlanta can absorb this innovative technology,” Cox said.
All but a handful of the charging stations will be Level 2 stations, which use a connector that is the American standard for charging stations, she said.
“Level 2 stations we’re seeing usage averaging about an hour, hour and a half,” Cox said. “People typically charge their Level 2 chargers where they normally are already going during the course of their day.”
County spokesman Robert Quigley said while the county may at some point buy some electric vehicles, it does not have any in its current fleet and has no immediate plans to order any.