Most of the major auto makers expect to have an electric vehicle or plug-in hybrid electric vehicle on the market within the next two or three years. By then, a 26-year-old entrepreneur hopes to have charging stations available for you, and as close by as your Blackberry.
It won't be long before electric cars are off the auto show floor displays and parked in a driveway near you. When that day comes, Scott Emalfarb wants to make sure Chicago is equipped.
"The vehicles are coming," said Emalfarb. "It's the chicken and the egg scenario, 100 percent, but no matter what, you have to have the infrastructure in order for this to be successful."
Emalfarb and four partners have started Carbon Day Automotives, a company that will sell charging stations to cities, businesses and utility companies. It will give electric car drivers public access to plug-in spots.
"We want to install the infrastructure here in Chicago first and then roll it out to other municipalities," Emalfarb said. "You're looking at probably five to 10 charging stations to start with and then as soon as more cars hit the marketplace, we'll take it and ramp up into a hundred stations, 500 stations."
ComEd is working with the company to study the technology and to scout the best possible locations to install the stations. It's using it's own fleet of battery-converted hybrid cars to explore factors like charging patterns and vehicle performance.
"Maintaining the reliability of the system is our No. 1 concern. That's actually why we're studying the vehicles now, well before they're adopted widely by consumers," said Dan Gabel, ComEd fleet services manager.
The stations will all be connected through a computer network, so drivers will have instant access to outlets.
"You're able to gain access into the charging stations based off your navigation system in your vehicle or your phone or your Blackberry, so you can actually see where the closest and nearest charging station is and which one is idle, which one's occupied," said Emalfarb.
The company's non-profit arm, "Carbon Day," is also trying to get a national holiday set for September 15. Carbon Day, as it would be called, will focus on teaching people how to reduce their carbon footprint.
For more information check out www.carbonday.com