In February, the Department of Energy announced that Arizona would receive $76.5 million over the next five years to expand its electric vehicle infrastructure.
The hope is that more people will end up buying electric cars.
Like an oasis in the desert, the partially solar-powered Tesla electric vehicle charging station at the Biltmore Camelback is a prime watering hole.
“Tesla chargers are the only ones worth stopping for,” said driver Austin Watts. “Others take too long,” he said.
Watts uses his Tesla to drive for Uber part-time and says electric is the only way to ride.
“It’s the best. Have you seen the gas prices? It’s pretty bad,” Watts said. “There’s no maintenance, nothing, more efficient, more fun, better. It’s just brilliant,” he said, raving about his electric.
When it comes to station changes, however, Watts said there was a great need for more.
“Phoenix is a little behind on the number of chargers. There are only three in all of Phoenix, most cities have about ten.”
According to the DOE Alternative Fuels Data Center, there are currently 868 charging stations throughout Arizona.
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In this first phase, the state will receive $11.3 million this year alone to build more, especially around road corridors.
It’s part of a comprehensive five-year, $5 billion plan to increase the number of charging stations nationwide from 46,000 to 500,000.
“Electricity costs about 50 cents compared to a gallon of gasoline,” said Jim Stack, president of the Phoenix Electric Auto Association.
Stack is delighted with the government’s plan.
“With this new plan, it’s almost something like 10,000 chargers per state. It’s just amazing!” Stack says. “You can install them on all major and minor road networks,” he said.
Stack has been in electric cars for 20 years. Back when people had to replace a gasoline engine themselves and file a paste to convert and make their own electric vehicles.
Stack said he’s glad EV owners soon have more options and don’t worry about running out of juice.
“You wouldn’t even have to think about it. It would be like gas stations, on every corner you go and look for which one I want and which has the best price,” he said.
With Arizona approaching 29,000 electric car owners, road trips are a breeze.
“I have a real fondness for Route 66, a historic highway. We’d like to have charging stations every 50 miles so everyone can go and visit it,” Stack said.
“If you have a Tesla, that’s a no-brainer. You just press a button on your screen and each charger appears. You press a button, it takes you to the nearest one,” he said.
“But if you wanted to go to Las Vegas or Tucson, there’s really only one place in Casa Grande to stop on the way to Tuscon. Would be nice to have a few more along the way .”
Arizona is approaching 29,000 electric car owners. Most EVs travel around 300 miles on a charge. Stack says that with more charging stations, drivers won’t worry about range and even more people will buy electric vehicles.
“There’s no transmission, no brake wear, there’s no maintenance,” Stack said. “You just drive it and have fun.”
ADOT spokesman Doug Nick said he’s aware of the federal plan to increase funding for electric vehicle infrastructure, but said it’s too early to release a formal action plan. .