Category Archives: Electric vehicles

New Illinois Driving Laws Ring In The New Year

Gavel LawbookThere are many new Illinois laws which took effect on January 1st–but just a handful that impact drivers.

One new law (Public Act #99-0300) will allow the Secretary of State to issue a driver’s license to someone who’s license has been revoked in another state, but who’s been an Illinois resident for at least 10 consecutive years and follows the requirements for reinstatement of driving privilege under state law.

Speaking of the Secretary of State, that office will soon be issuing special license plates for rental cars that will replace renewal stickers for vehicle registration (Public Act #99-0080).

Tesla Unveils Robot EV Charger

The engineering folks at Tesla unveiled a new, snake-like robotic arm charging unit that seems to be creeping people out.

Perhaps it’s because it looks like something out of a sci-fi film ala Terminator.

Tesla, while creating beautiful, top of the line electric sports cars, seems to be having some financial issues.

After not meeting quarterly revenue estimates, Tesla stock lost 10% of its value. Some observers feel it’s stock is highly overvalued.

Illinois Expands EV Charging Station Network Along Route 66

Route 66 signThey’re calling it the Illinois Route 66 Electric Corridor.

Just before leaving office, Illinois Governor made the decision to invest $1 million into a series of electric vehicle charging stations along the 300 stretch of historic Route 66 from Chicago to St. Louis.

Quinn believes electric vehicles are one part of what his administration calls a “sustainable future.”

“We are building a 21st century infrastructure across Illinois and we need to make sure that it is sustainable for future generations,” Quinn said. “This new project exemplifies Illinois’ place as the innovation capital of the Midwest, with cutting-edge business practices that create jobs and encourage sustainability.”

Support For Plug In Electric Vehicles Still High Says Study

The market for electric vehicles is still strong, according to a recent study by the Electrification Coalition.

“The research shows that consumers love their electric vehicles and that EVs are well on their way to establishing a meaningful position in the overall automobile market,” said Robbie Diamond, President and CEO of the Electrification Coalition. “Electric vehicles are the key to reducing America’s dangerous dependence on oil, and their strong early sales and earned consumer satisfaction bode well for improving our nation’s energy security in the years ahead. However, we continue to believe that public policy, including greater funding for research and development, should play a stronger role in supporting this vital technology.”

To be fair, acceptance of plug-in, all-electric cars has been slow. Vehicles like the Nissan Leaf, Chevy Volt, Smart Car Electric and others are expensive.

Test Drive A Smart Car, Get A Free Taco This Weekend

Do  you like tacos?

How about free tacos?

Smart Car is hoping a delicious and free taco from hipster Mexican joint Big Star in Wicker Park will be incentive enough to get people to test drive one or both of their new cars–at least according to the Chicago Tribune.

Smart Car manufactures compact, two passenger vehicles which are perfect for urban driving since drivers can snuggle them into tiny parking spaces normal size cars would never fit.

Chicago is the last stop on Smart Car’s national tour to get motorists to test drive their new vehicles, with dates set for Saturday, July 6th and Sunday, July 7th from 11 AM to 7 PM.

Tesla Debuts First Midwest Electric Car ‘Supercharger’

A Tesla Supercharger in action. Photo credit: Tesla Motors

Tesla Motors, one of a handful of electric car manufacturers in the U.S., recently unveiled it’s first Midwest region “supercharger” in Normal, IL.

According to WBEZ 91.5 FM, it is the first such fast charging station outside of California or the East Coast. Tesla says it takes about 30 minutes to full recharge an electric car battery at one of these stations.

The company’s Model S can get about 265 miles from a fully charged battery. So, the company is trying to setup a national network of these “super” charging stations to allow Tesla car owners the ability to drive long distances without having to worry about finding a place to charge.

Chicago’s Electric Car Charging Stations Still Not Completed

EV charging station outside a West Loop Walgreens installed by 350Green

It was a major deal in 2010 when Chicago announced it had just signed a contract to have a company called 350Green install 280 electric vehicle charging stations around the city.

Two years later, after 350Green only completed 60% of the installations, the city felt something wasn’t kosher and essentially pulled the plug on the project–but only after paying out nearly $2 million to 350Green.

“The City discovered apparent financial irregularities involving 350Green LLC’s installation of electric vehicle charging stations,” said Tom Alexander, a spokesperson with the Mayor’s office at the time. “We immediately notified the appropriate authorities and are cooperating fully with those agencies and any potential investigation.”

But now, the Chicago Tribune has an update on the 350Green fiasco and things seems to be getting worse for the company according to the newspaper.

Study: Motorists Resistant To Buying Electric Cars

 Chicago Drivers More Open To EV Than Most U.S. Cities

According to a recently released study from the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA), American motorists won’t be purchasing electric powered vehicles any time soon.

However, motorists in Chicago seemed more receptive than drivers in every other city save San Francisco/San Jose.

President Obama’s administration is aiming to put one million electric cars on the nation’s roads by 2015. But according to this survey of 2300 drivers in 21 major American cities, there’s just not very much interest in purchasing a plug-in electric vehicle.

“Although many engineers, environmentalists and politicians are enthusiastic about electric vehicle technology, this survey reveals that new car buyers, based on early impressions, have little interest in purchasing plug-in vehicles,” said John D. Graham, dean of the School of Public and Environmental Affairs and a co-author of the study.

Could Cars Powered By Natural Gas Be The Answer To Expensive Gasoline?

Honda Civic Natural Gas

Is natural gas the future for alternative fuel vehicles?

While electric vehicle charging stations remain generally underused and the sales of electric vehicles like the Chevy Volt, Nissan Leaf or high priced Tesla remain lukewarm, it seems that sales for natural gas powered vehicles are heating up.

The Chicago Tribune spotlights the small, overlooked but quickly growing trend in natural gas powered vehicles.

While sales of vehicles that run on compressed natural gas have traditionally been for fleets of vans and other business vehicles, because the price of gasoline has risen and remains high, while the cost of natural gas has dropped, consumers have begun purchasing natural gas powered cars.

Actually, there’s only one on the market–the Honda Civic Natural Gas.

Possible Investigation Short Circuits Chicago’s Electric Vehicle Charging Station Program

EV charging station outside a West Loop Walgreens installed by 350Green

There was much fanfare back in early 2010, when Chicago signed a nearly $2 million deal to install 280 electric vehicle chargers around the city and surrounding areas.

Chicago and the State of Illinois kicked in $1.9 million (much of it federal stimulus money) for a project with 350Green,one of the nation’s most aggressive developer of EV charging station networks, to install a total of 280 charging stations. The total cost was pegged at $8.8 million, with 350Green finding private funds for the nearly $7 million to fully fund the project.

According to the 55 page city contract, all 280 charging stations were scheduled to be completed by the end of 2011. But now, six months after the original deadline, the project is only 60% complete, contractors have not been paid for work already completed and it seems the City of Chicago has stopped their payments to 350Green.

Even as far back in March of this year, while the company was touting the installation of new charging stations at Chicago area Illinois Tollway Oases, when questioned about the delay, 350Green public relations spokesperson at the time Nicole Fallat admitted the project was behind schedule but was confident it would be completed by the end of April.