Looking for a place to charge your electric car?  Check out the Open Charge Map which locates EV charging stations in many countries.around the globe.

To get more battery electric cars on the road in the US, auto manufacturers are now cutting the cost of leasing the vehicles we hear from delawareonline. Automakers sold just over 12,000 pure-electric vehicles in the country through April which is less than 1% of the 4.97 million cars and trucks sold during the same period. As a result, Honda  announced that it’s lowering the monthly lease cost of its Fit EV by one third. Honda also is throwing in free routine maintenance, collision insurance, a free home charging station and unlimited mileage. The reduced lease price starts June 1 and will apply to existing EV leases. The charging station normally costs about $1000. Honda is following similar lease discounts targeted at GM’s Chevy Spark and the Nissan Leaf.

To spur electric car sales in Shanghai, that Chinese city’s government has approved additional subsidies for EV buyers. Ecns reports Shanghai’s Jiading District will now provide subsidies for electric car charging. Until 2014, 350 green car owners living or working in the district will each receive a subsidy of 15,000 yuan (US$2,446) for their electricity fees and expenses for charging. They already received incentives of 40,000 yuan to buy purely electric vehicles and 30,000 yuan for plug-in hybrids offered by the city government.

theenergycollective writes about combining EVs with smart grid technology. Electric cars take a long time to charge (from 30 minutes to several hours). When scaled up to millions of homes and charging points that puts a lot of extra demand on the electric grid. At the same time, smart grid technology offers two-way information and communication between consumers and electricity suppliers, allowing the former to better manage their electricity use and costs, and the latter to better manage electricity supply. Until now there has been little study of how smart grid technology could help with electric car charging specifically. The post brings our attention to a demonstration project in the Australian state of Victoria. The results showed that participants responded to price and supply changes by choosing the “smart grid” option which enabled the grid technology to manage and minimize the cost of charging their cars. As a result, the electrical utility had to deal with less demand strain and offered smoother power utilization. The authors of the report concluded that drivers of electric cars cut their charging costs by 50%.

Clean Technica has an infographic on the rise of electric car charging in the US.

Climate Spectator comments on the demise of Better Place, the battery swapping alternative to EV recharging. The Israeli battery-charging and battery-switching service provider has gone into bankruptcy as there were not enough EVs on the road to justify its infrastructure in Israel, Australia and Denmark. The aim of the venture was to reduce charging time from hours to minutes as drivers drove into their service bays and replaced their depleted battery with a fully charged battery.  The company adopted a model similar to the cell phone industry: drivers would pay a monthly fee for access to a network of stations where they could swap batteries in about the amount of time it would take to fill a tank with gasoline. Customers also could charge their cars at home for free. As the post suggests, the company was “ahead of its time” but the slow pace of EV growth coupled with the reluctance of auto manufacturers to reveal essential battery information left it with a large financial debt.  The company has been transferred to a liquidator with the fate of the assets in limbo.  Better Place had 38 battery switching stations in Israel.  See also Jewish Journal, Why did Israel’s promising electric car maker fail?

Electric car owners in the US are facing confusion at the charging station according to Bloomberg. One of the big frustrations of EV drivers is that the charging industry lacks a universal payments platform. Drivers pulling into commercial stations must use cards embedded with radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips to activate a post and pay. But each network has a different card. The hope is that a universal system—or something approaching it—may eventually emerge as the industry evolves.

The bottom line: Compatibility issues are slowing the growth of electric-vehicle charging networks and frustrating drivers.

The same source tells us the biggest obstacle to EV growth in the US is the lack of charging stations.  Millions are needed if potential buyers are to overcome range anxiety. Essentially, EV charging stations must replicate the gasoline station model.

“The biggest hole in the whole EV market is the infrastructure — being able to charge that car once you’re beyond your home,” said Michael Farkas Farkas, CEO of Car Charging Group. (Car Charging operates 1100 charging stations across the US.)

To address the charging infrastructure issue for its own customers, US EV automaker Tesla Motors is building a Supercharger network in the US and Canada. Gadling tells us the company has plans to install 100 of these fast stations along US and Canadian highways. Currently 8 are in operation on the US west coast but this number will reach 25 in the US by the end of this month. The Supercharge network will be free for owners of Tesla vehicles and will not be available to any other cars. Model S drivers will get 3 hours of driving time from every 20 minutes of charging thereby enabling them to drive from New York to Los Angeles. Tesla’s plan will also add more stations every 80 to 100 miles on heavily used routes such as the corridor between New York, Boston and Washington, D.C. The entire network could be in place by the end of this year. See also Electric Light & Power, Tesla network of electric car superchargers will enable cross-country drives and The Green Optimistic, Tesla Motors to Triple The Number of Charging Stations

Link2 tells us the largest independent hotel operator in the UK is rolling out an EV charging network. Best Western has already installed 50 charging stations and a further 120 will be installed by the end of September. 32A Type 2 charging stations are being installed, which add approximately 30 miles of range to a car’s battery for every hour of charge. This will fully charge the new Renault Zoe, for example, in under four hours, Guests at the hotels will be able to drive their electric car into a car park and charge the batteries during their visit.

Market research firm Frost & Sullivan sees an explosive growth of EV charging stations in Europe by the end of this decade reports The Auto Channel. The market for EV charging stations is expected to grow rapidly from 7,250 in 2012 to over 3.1 million by 2019 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 113.3% over the period 2012-2019. France, Germany, Norway and the United Kingdom are expected to lead the market due to the high adoption rates of EVs in these countries. Easy access to charging stations to eliminate range anxiety will mean that Europeans have the freedom to drive for longer periods of time. However, obstacles exist which still need to be overcome if EVs are to have a chance of challenging internal combustion engines:

…a major speed bump will be inability to provide long range in a single charge and charging times varying from 30 minutes to 10 hours. “Emerging trends, for instance, are focusing on AC fast charging which will charge vehicles in 2-3 hours, representing the best use case in locations such as cinema halls and shopping malls.”

In addition, multiple rules and regulations related to the electricity usage and charges across the EU (European Union) means that a standardised business model is yet to be adopted. Developing a dynamic business model will, therefore, be a key requirement if the market is to continue on its upward trajectory.

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