For west Chandler resident Clayton Saffell, driving a mile costs him only 2 cents – a startling ratio any resident should get excited about with the recently increasing gas prices. That’s because Saffel’s car doesn’t have a tailpipe emitting any gases. He drives a Nissan Leaf, an all-electric car, in a national EV (Electric Vehicle) Project with Ecotality North America.
Late last month, Saffell was the first recipient of the Blink Level 2 electric-car charging station in Arizona, which was installed in his garage. Ecotality North America unveiled the charger during a presentation at Chandler’s Innovation Incubator.
“Everyday when I get up, (his Nissan Leaf) is fully charged for 100 miles,” Saffell said.
Ecotality will be tracking consumer data from Saffell, including information on how many miles he’s driving and the daily charging time, which is stored on his charging station.
“Just go to the nearest corner and look at the gas prices,” Saffell said. “Now, more than ever, seems like an opportunity to explore electric vehicles.”
Don Karner, Ecotality North America president, said the EV project will change transportation across the nation.
“The purpose of this project is really to learn, and have people, like Clayton, operate the vehicles to determine where we need to put commercial chargers,” Karner said. “We’re taking the first step to what we think will be a brand new transportation future for America.”
So far, chargers are available only at Nissan dealerships. Ecotality, though, has plans for an infrastructure of charging stations for all electric vehicles.
“We’re looking at how best to interface the system with the existing electric grid,” Karner said. “We’re making personal transportation more available for residents, with the Nissan Leaf, and soon-to-be Chevron Volt.”
Thomas Schoaf, chair for the Maricopa Association of Governments, said he has been working with Ecotality to develop regional policies to implement the electric vehicle infrastructure in the Valley.
“MAG has assisted Ecotality in mapping out areas the DC Chargers and the Level 2 Chargers can be located,” Schoaf said. “We believe that greater use of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles will complement our other regional alternative transportation efforts, such as light rail, commuter rail and bus rapid transit.”
Karner said Ecotality will install over 900 Level 2 charging stations, like Saffell’s, that will be available to the public. Additionally, about 40 commercial Blink DC fast chargers will be installed in the Valley.
The fast chargers are able to charge a battery in only 30 minutes. Saffell said it takes 7 hours to charge his Nissan Leaf, from empty to full.
Overall, Saffell said he’s loved having the zero-emissions, no-gas vehicle.
“It’s been great,” he said. “I haven’t even touched my other car – it’s been sitting in the garage since I got the Nissan Leaf.”