SPRINGFIELD — The number of electric vehicle quick-charging stations in the Chicagoland area alone? 26. The number of vehicles registered with the Illinois Secretary of State that can use those stations? 18.

By Andrew Thomason

SPRINGFIELD — The number of electric vehicle quick-charging stations in the Chicagoland area alone? 26. The number of vehicles registered with the Illinois Secretary of State that can use those stations? 18.

And that gap could grow.

(Work to install six charging stations in three public parking lots in Evanston started this week. See related story here.)

Gov. Pat Quinn and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel announced late in March that Los Angeles-based 350Green, which had installed the 26 stations, will set up another 47 quick-charge stations by the start of 2013, bringing the total to 73. The firm develops networks in major cities nationwide and worldwide.

Illinois and the City of Chicago will put up $1.9 million in addition to 350Green’s $6.9 million investment to install quick-charge stations and other, slower charging stations in high traffic and densely populated areas of Chicagoland.

Now only Nissan LEAF and Mitsubishi i electric cars can use the quick-charge stations. Currently four Nissan LEAFs and 14 Mitsubishi i’s are registered with the Illinois Secretary of State, according to records obtained by Illinois Statehouse News through the Freedom of Information Act.

Few models of cars can use the quick-charge stations, which charge cars in about 30 minutes, because domestic electric vehicles lack a standard for quick charging, though that is set to change this summer.

Eric Heineman, sustainability adviser to Quinn, said 350Green will retrofit its quick charging stations to accommodate the domestic standard.

For now, the other 269 electric vehicles registered with the Secretary of State, such as the Chevrolet Volt, must use the slower charging stations, which can take several hours to deliver full charge.

All vehicles that don a standard license plate must register with the Secretary of State.

Heineman said the number of registered electric vehicles may be lower than the actual number of electric vehicles on the road, because the Secretary of State doesn’t have records for vehicles with vanity plates.

“It’s hard to get a real sense of the number because of that,” Heineman said.

Heineman estimated that about 600 electric vehicles are on the road in Illinois.

The state earmarked up to $10 million for electric vehicle infrastructure from the 2009 Illinois Jobs Now! capital program.

Also, homeowners, business owners, cities and community colleges are eligible for grants through the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity that will cover 50 percent of the cost of installing charging stations, Heineman said.

Grants also will be given retroactively to anyone who has installed a charging station for 50 percent of the installation costs.

The filing deadline for the first round of grants is June 15.

Heineman said another round of grants is planned, and that will be paid for through the capital program.

Illinoisans also can get up to $11,500 in federal and state rebates for buying an electric vehicle.

Tad DeHaven, a budget analysis for the CATO Institute, a libertarian think tank, said the government shouldn’t be investing in or propping up technology that has yet to develop a mass appeal.

“At this point it’s basically politicians throwing a bunch of money at the wall and hoping something sticks,” DeHaven said.

DeHaven said that eventually the demand for electric vehicles will grow to such an extent that the private sector can support their infrastructure, but the government shouldn’t be accelerating that timeline artificially.

Advocates of electric vehicles say that as electric vehicle infrastructure begins to become more prolific, people will be less hesitant to buy electric vehicles.

“It is the hope that our charging stations in highly visible locations will spur activity from consumers,” David Goodridge, vice president of infrastructure for 350Green, said.

Drivers wanting to use the quick-charge stations will have to buy minutes from 350Green, which will be put on a card similar to a debit or credit card. Consumers will get three 15-minute charges for $21.

Will Beckett has owned three electric vehicles and said public charging stations are convenient, but mostly unnecessary.

Beckett is a board member for the Electric Auto Association, a nonprofit that promotes the use of electric vehicles.

“Having owned an electric car since 1994, it’s great to see public charging stations, but I have never felt that I was lacking the ability to charge,” Beckett, who lives in what is arguably the epicenter of the electric car movement, Palo Alto, Calif., said. “I could always find a plug … Sometimes it was a house. Sometimes it was a business.”

Join the Conversation


  1. State wasting money again

    These cars are extremely expensive and will never pay for themselves. I'm not surprised that the Illinois state government would spend money for technology that has not arrived, especially when the state and Illinois taxpayers are having to cut services that are going to hurt its citizens.

    Are they being used by the Obama administration to prop up the electric car industry. The Chevy Volt has been a big disappointment. This past winter, it took the average owner 12+ hour to fully charge the batteries and they carried the car about 18 miles before needing another 12+ hour recharge. I know that the car will perform a little better in the summer.

    By far federal and state governments have been duped into buying almost 80% of a failed car that Obama has subsidized 75% of the cost to build and sell.

    I hope our Evanston government is not stupid enough to buy any of the currently available cars.

    1. False

      Skipw — wow.  False, false, and…false.  You have no clue.  Try actually driving one or something before you have an opinion.

      1. No clue

        Dear No Name,

        Name something that is false and explain why you think it is false.

        I just know that you will say that the Volt will not perform better in warm weather. I will still disagree with you on that.

        You must admit that the most economic part of the car is that it has a gasoline engin and it is that engine that allows the driver the power to make it to a charging station.

        The government should be investing money into energy research and not into companies that produce cars that only a fool would buy. Tell us that you bought one.

    2. Sorry, but the Volt is not a contender

      Sorry, but IMO, the Volt is not a contender.  

      30 miles, then needs gas and / or a recharge.  

      If you are going to go electric, GO electric. 

      GM is typical of what I'd expect from them.  And the price is ridiculous … $10k more than the Leaf?  

      Why not put that money into a better battery? 

      And the finish is, well, cheap. 

      For what, $49,000?  Park it next to a Tesla at $59k starting.  No comparison.  Except the latter is a one-year wait. 


      1. The Volt is a great chioce

        The leaf is the one that is not a contender.  What happens if you run out of battery… you wait for the tow truck!  But really, if the car will stay local and never go on a road trip then that might work.  So it might be ok for a commuter car as long as the family has a different car to take on trips.  I certainly don't want to have to look for a place to charge and wait the time to charge while I'm out and about.

        It all depends on where you typically drive.    I have the Volt.  On most days I can complete my driving with the charged battery.  If I need to drive a little more, I have the gas generator to provide power to my electric engine.  I'm not tied to a charging station (and waiting while it charges) or limited to how far I drive.  It's the best of both worlds.  I mostly use electric but can quickly refill the gas tank at any gas station… I guess someday I might need to go to a gas station :).

        As for your 30 mile reference, I just drove 52 miles on one charge today… without using gas.  I expect to drive using the battery 90+% of the time with the occasional need to run the gas generator on days where more drriving is required.  So I think I have gone electric, with the practicality and freedom of a gas generator.

        Where are you getting a $49,000 price?  MSRP is $39,999 and fully loaded is in the $45,000 range.  The nisson leaf is in the $35,000-37,000 range depending on model.

        "the finish is cheap"  What are you talking about?  My car is fully loaded and looks and feels like a luxury car.  It's a smooth, solid ride with plenty of pep.  Leather heated seats, GPS, keyless entry/start, rear backup camera, many integrated features to control and explain the eco system, remote start to initiate climate control since the engine does not need to warm up. Maybe you should test drive the Volt and research one before making such uneducated posts.

        1. My Car

          My car is a Mazda.

          I use gasoline to power it.

          I get excellent gas mileage.

          I paid under $20,000.00 for it.

          I love it, fun to drive.

          I love it, very mechanically reliable.

          I cannot afford to pay $39,999.00 for a car.

          If I could afford to pay $39,999.00 for a car, I would not buy a Volt or a Leaf. 

          Simple as that.

          I wonder if the rest of the country feels this way?

          Do you support OWS with a $40,000.00 car? 😉

        2. New record

          You just broke the record at 52 miles on one charge, while most Volt drivers in colder climates were getting less than 20. Originally GM was marketing the Volt at 45 miles per charge but scaled it back to 35 when the auto magazines could not come close to the 45 number. And that was in warm weather.

          Do you have a special Volt that out performs GM's expectations. Then you should contact GM so they can find out what they did right with your car.

          It would be great if every Volt could come close to achieving your numbers, since our federal government invested $ 200,000 in your car alone, not to mention the $ 7,500 tax credit they gave you.

          I have bought 1 car in my life that exceeded MPG expectations. That was a 1971 Vega that got 31 MPG when Chevy said it would only get 24 on the highway. Besides the mileage the Vega had many other problems that made it a DUD. All the other cars that I have owned in the last 40 years, like nearly everyone else, fell short of the manufactures Ads.

          You are one lucky guy when you got that one special Volt. Now if they would only design the Volt to have the gas mode charge the batteries to give you even more extended miles.

          1. The Volt has a regeneration

            The Volt has a regeneration system where when you are coasting or slowing down/breaking it uses that motion to regenerate additional charge on the battery.  This system really does extend the battery charge.  When I frist started the car that morning it said I could drive 46 miles on the charge but I actually drove 52.

            The Volt can use the generator to simply charge the battery.  There is a gas maintenance mode that the car can go into.  With that, the car used .1 gallons of gas and the charge said it would drive another 26 miles on the battery.

            Would you stop is with the government subsidy crap.  As you well know it's not a subsidy – it's a loan and GM is to pay it back.  The entire amount GM owes the government should not be allocated to the number of Volts sold.  That is just plain misleading. 

            The $7500 tax credit is capped at the amount of taxes you are to pay for the tax year.  If you owe less than that in taxes you don't get the full amount.  This is where it doesn't make sense – someone who owes more in taxes must make more and get's a higher amount up to the $7500.  Someone who has a smaller tax liability must make less (or have extreme deductions) and will get less of a tax credit.  I don't have extreme deductions and will be getting much less than the $7500.

            As for those that think the car is expensive.  Factor in your car price plus your gas bills over several years. 

            • A 20,000 gas car plus $200/month in gas for 6 years ($14,400) comes to 34,400.
            • A $40,000 electric volt, less the 7500 Fed rebate (if you can get all of it) and the 4000 IL rebate is $28,500.  If you then add in $1.50 for electric charge daily for 6 years ($3,285) the cost of ownership and electric is $31,785.  That leaves you some room to buy gas now and then and still have the car actually be cheaper than a old fashioned gas burner.
            • The Volt also only requires an oil change when it tells you to get one.  This is dependent on how often the gas generator runs.  I'm told that could be a year but certainly more than 6 months. 

            I'm not one lucky guy.  I'm one smart gal who did her homework and is taking a chance on new technology.

  2. What would Dewitt Clinton do?

    Tad DeHaven, a budget analysis for the CATO Institute, a libertarian think tank, said the government shouldn't be investing in or propping up technology that has yet to develop a mass appeal.

    "At this point it's basically politicians throwing a bunch of money at the wall and hoping something sticks," DeHaven said.

    DeHaven said that eventually the demand for electric vehicles will grow to such an extent that the private sector can support their infrastructure, but the government shouldn't be accelerating that timeline artificially.

    Libertarians are so cute.   They think that the magical Private Sector will solve everything.

    Transportation never has been left to any private sector.  The National Road, in 1811, was a government project.  The interstate highway system, land grants to railroads, the federal air traffic control system and system of airports (government sponsored infrastructure) are all examples of government supporting transportation. 

    And of course there is also the Panama Canal, which the US government completed after the magical Private Sector failed.

    Speaking of canals, consider the Erie Canal:

    "The Erie Canal started construction in 1817 and was completed 8 years later. It was the first commercial link between New York East and the West. The Erie Canal cost $7 million to construct and was acclaimed as one the greatest engineering marvels in the world. It united the country and helped NYC become the financial state it is. In 1809 New York delegation went to Washington DC to propose a funding for the Canal. Thomas Jefferson said to come back in a 100 years because the project would bankrupt the nation let alone the state. Yet, Dewitt who was head of the committee who later became governor did not listen. There was a lot of political opposition, but in 1817 the canal bill was passed."

    Jefferson – the annoying slaveholder – sounds like skipw and Ted DeHaven.  

    1. Your are kidding, right

      "Libertarians are so cute.   They think that the magical Private Sector will solve everything.

      Transportation never has been left to any private sector.  The National Road, in 1811, was a government project.  The interstate highway system, land grants to railroads, the federal air traffic control system and system of airports (government sponsored infrastructure) are all examples of government supporting transportation.

      And of course there is also the Panama Canal, which the US government completed after the magical Private Sector failed."

      The National Road was built to encourage settlers to move west so that they could occupy the land that was owned by the federal government. It was also used by the military to move troops to the areas were settlers need protection from hostiles. Without the settlers the government couldn't secure and control the land.

      The Eisenhower National Highway and Defense System was built so that the government would be able to move military equipment, tanks, portable missile systems to any area of the country in a reasonable amount of time. There are certain weight, height, and width requirements to this day. They also have requirements for straight sections of highway that are long enough to land military jets.

      Until the mid-1930s, the private sector controlled the airports and the air traffic control system. The U.S. Military met with the airlines and helped to develop standards among to various airports and airlines. This was to protect their planes as well as the private planes. In 1941, with war in the air, the military took over the airports and the air traffic control system from the private sector.

      As far as the canals, they were both planned by the private sector and were brought to the federal government as useful projects. The federal government built the Panama Canal and New York State built the Erie Canal.

      Your commits from Jefferson about breaking the bank were true but the federal government didn't have enough money to support an army and other federal government functions. The states were far richer than the federal government and New York was the richest. That is why they were able to pay for the building of the Erie Canal. Remember New York more than recovered the investment in several years by charging tolls.

      As far as the Volt, the March 2 numbers show that the federal government has subsidized each Volt sold to the tune of $ 200,000. (I made a mistake here by saying they subsidized 75 % of the Volt. It should have said 750 %.) This is not counting  the $ 7,500 government rebate for buying a volt. GM has shut down the Volt line and laid off 1,300 workers. This version of the Volt will probably not be built in the future without significant improvements to its batteries and power consumption. It cost more to operate than a comparable gas powered car. This type of government involvement doesn't sound like any of your examples. This is more like Solyndra or the many other failed companies our government has invested in lately.

      Did you know that GM still owes the government 25 billion dollars. Chrysler is all paid up. Ford never dipped into the taxpayer's well.

      Maybe they could cover the Volt in solar panels or put a windmill on the roof.

      Our government should invest in energy research, not in projects and companies that are trying to make it on not-ready-for-prime-time technology. Maybe if our government made a better use of our tax dollars, we would have a reasonable source of renewable energy in the next couple of years. Think of all the obsolete wind mills and solar panels that will need to be replaced when that time arrives in a few years.

      Thanks for comparing me to one of the great founders of our country but I am not worthy. As to comparing me to an annoying slave holder, meet me at dawn, you SOB.

      1. Rock on Skip W

        This was pretty much the most awesome comment ever on Evanstonnow.  You are so right.

      2. Fuzzy (or should I say ‘bogus’) math

        "As far as the Volt, the March 2 numbers show that the federal government has subsidized each Volt sold to the tune of $ 200,000. (I made a mistake here by saying they subsidized 75 % of the Volt. It should have said 750 %."

        Enquiring minds want to know where skipw came up with this figure of $200K subsidies for Volt.

        Here is a reference:

        According to the auto website jalopnik, it came from the Makinac Center for Public Policy, which Wikipedia describes as a 'free-market think tank' and adds:

        "The Mackinac Center’s work is rooted in the tradition of John Locke and Adam Smith. More recently, the Center has spoken approvingly about the Tea Party movement."

        So how did this tea-friendly "think tank" come up with this figure?  Jalopnik says:

        To get to this number analyst James Hohman looked at 18 government programs (rebates, grants, loans, tax credits) and divided that number by the amount of Chevy Volts sold thus far. There's a total of $3 billion in subsidies including $2.3 billion in federal money and $690.4 million offered by the State of Michigan.

        Divide into that the 6,000 (or so) Volts sold thus far and you arrive at their number. Or,actually, you arrive at a number closer to $500,000. The math's a little fuzzy.


        A little fuzzy indeed.  For the numerator, the amount of subsidies, he took the maximum of all possible subsidies that could ever be received, ever, if GM continues to produce Volts forever.  For the denominator, he took the number of Volts sold so far….very fishy.

        Jalopnik continues:

        "Of course, this is the largest possible number — because many of these subsidies only max out if the suppliers and companies involved hit their maximum employment/production targets, as they themselves admit:"

        And, skipw says that the FEDERAL government subsidizes the Volt at 200K per car…while a good proportion of the subsidies come from the State of Michigan.

        And, to top it off, his accounting of government subsidies does not make any adjustment for any return that the State of Michigan or Federal Goverment get…from payroll taxes, sales tax in Michigan, or property taxes.

        It's bogus accounting, and intellectually  dishonest.

        1. Fuzzy Brain

          It is not fuzzy math. They have sold slightly less than 10k Volts. The Feds have already subsidized GM to the tone of 2.3 billion and you will never see that money again. ( They stiil owe the Fed 25 billion in other unpaid loans). I gave GM the benefit of doubt by rounding the number down to 200k. This not include the 7.5k tax credit. It do not include the Michigan subsidy. There are 5 or 6 other states that are offering a tax credit or rebate to those that have bought the Volt. A very high percentage of the cars have been purchased by the federal, state, county, and city governments. I wonder if the Feds get a discount since they are buying from themselves.

          I am have not been aware of Makinac Center for Public Policy until now. One has to wonder why you speak ill of them because they may have spoken well of the Tea Party. Would you tell everyone why you don't like the Tea Party?

          If the federal government would invest our (and China's) money into energy research instead of companies using not-ready-for-primetime technology, I would feel a lot better about where our tax dollars go.

          I hope that some day we will be using reliable and cost effective renewable energy but that day hasn't come. What are they going to do with all those windmills and solar panels when they are replaced with cost effedtive models?

  3. Electric vehicles

    Technology needs innovation.  Government stifles innovation. Look at what has happened to solar, once subsidies go away, goodbye. Electric vehicles with $10,000 to $15,000 batteries are not competitive. Innovation paves the way.  Look at how HP started, Apple, Google. The internet basics grew out of DARPA, but Netscape and AOL made it a consumer product.

    You won't find them in GSA, Secret Service or Dixon.

  4. Electric Vehicles — *Supply* is the problem, not demand

    I've been trying to buy an EV for a year and finally managed but it sure wasn't easy!

    The national car makers don't actually send cars to the Chicago area dealerships, or if they do, it's one car to one dealer located an hour away from Evanston.

    The vehicles we see at the car shows and in the mass media are mostly being sent to the east and west coasts where I guess the marketers think folks are more environmental or trendy.

    Then the dealers think you'll just order it online! Who's going to buy a car they can't test drive?!  When I finally located a car at a local dealership in Evanston, even that dealer's own home website didn't advertise that they were qualified to show and sell that particular car model.

    And I still had to go online to place the order, using one of the worst-designed customer interfaces I've ever seen run by a company that supposedly is in business to make profits.

    So maybe in six weeks I'll have the car and can register it with the State of Illinois.

    Don't blame demand; blame the marketing people at the big automakers — Chevy, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Toyota — all with EV's (100% E, not just hybrid)  that are supposedly in production with normal availability and are nigh impossible to buy around here.

    1. Agree with you 100 percent

      Agree with you 100%

      I ordered a Leaf.  And had to go to Nissan's web site.  Then test drive one at dealer. 

      Then accept the dealer quote.  Etc. etc. etc. 

      Then the ridiculous garage inspection. I signed a waiver (all 10 pages) and installed it myself. 

      Dealer knew less than I did about the car. 

      But in June I take delivery … hopefully. 

      Also saw the Tesla.  Now that's a car!

      Pricey but wow!



    2. Supply and demand

      The supply is not there because the demand is not there.

      Why spend $40K+ for an all battery powered <140 mile car, when you can get a hybrid for ~$25K? You do not have to worry about an available charging station, either.

      The marketers are doing their job, placing supply where there is demand.

      Why did the Volt have a manufacturing hiatus?


      1. Forbes on Volt

        Vito and skipw should read this article by Dale Buss in Forbes from April 3 of this year (which I guess you consider part of the imaginary 'liberal media'): Re-Volting Development: Chevy Volt Sales Surged in March

        "While many analysts jumped all over GM’s move as an indicator of corporate resignation that Volt sales would be going into the dumper over the long term, there were some complications. First of all, the move to stop Volt output temporarily involved factors of production balancing that were significant. GM also has begun to ramp up output of the new-generation Chevrolet Malibu at the Detroit-Hamtramck plant where Volt is built, and manufacturing executives wanted to throttle back Volt production somewhat anyway to synchronize it with full-volume manufacture of Malibu.

        1. Thank you anonymous

          The Forbes article was a pretty funny tongue-in-cheek read. I enjoyed it a lot. Over the last year GM has sold less than an average of 1,000 Volts per month and they have a surge to 2,000 Volts this March. They sold 9,000 Volts over a 14 month period, so I guess this is a surge.

          All of the battery cars are falling far below their announced miles per charge, especially during the winter months.

          The Leaf was said to get 100 miles per full charge but has been getting about 60. You better get to a charging station when you see power getting low because you don't have a gas engine back-up to save your but.

          The Volt was avertised to get 45 miles per full charge when it doesn't start on fire. Thank God that it does have a gas engine back-up because it has been getting about 30 in warm weather climates and 18 in cold weather climates. The downside is that even in wam weather areas of the country than any comparable full time gas powered car.

          Oh, there is one more electric sports car that our government subsidized to the tune of 500 million dollars. I believe the car is called the Karma and it was selling for a six figures. Even though it was an American car company, after they got the Obama Money, they moved design and production to England. They haverecalled every car they sold and stopped production until they can resolved numerous problems. The bad news is that we lost another 500 in Obama Dollar. The good news is that we will not need to bury our pride because it wasn't built in America.

           Anonymous, if you do not believe in the liberal bias media, you find somebody to bring you back from your imaginary world. 

  5. 8 mm film never made it into

    8 mm film never made it into widespread use.  The metric system didn't win out.  Corn added to gas seems not to accomplish much.  Maybe that's the future for electric cars.

    1. What planet are you on?

      Overwhelmingly most people in the world use the metric system.   ONly the US, Myanmar, and Liberia don't use it.  It is weird to say it hasn't "won out!"?  It is everywhere.

  6. Take a deep breath… now breathe out slowly…

    I am a little surprised at the tone of the commentary here.  Not to mention the mis-information.

    Modern electric cars BEV's (Battery Electric Vehicles), HEV's (Hybrid Electric Vehicles), PHEV's (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles) and even Fuel Cell Vehicles are in their infancy and gaining new momentum every day.

    Mariia Zimmerman states the case succinctly in her article: "Reinventing America's Transportation"

    America has a long history of visionary transportation investment that has left a sizable imprint on our landscape and world standing. Our canals, railroads, bridges, and highways have shaped settlement patterns and served as the backbone of our economy. While these investments shaped the past, it is time now to ask what kind of investments America needs today when gasoline prices are high, oil dependence is a national threat, climate change is threatening the globe, and families are looking for more affordable and reliable options.

    We are looking for and developing the bridges to the future and it is encouraging that there are so many options available in such a (relatively) short period of time to help us in our transition to the future.

    I say THANK YOU to all of the early adopters of these vehicles and to everyone I beg – Please walk more, ride your bike often, and use public transit whenever you can.

    Respectfully submitted, Brian G. Becharas

    Brian G. Becharas
    Energy Education Associates
    Secretary: Renewable Energy Task Force, Chairman: Transportation Task Force,
    CGE – http://www.greenerevanston.org/ &nbsp; http://www.facebook.com/CitizensGreenerEvanston

  7. There’s a ton of

    There's a ton of consideration upon buying an electric car. 1st you need to have the infrastructure for the sustainability of electricity to power up the cars. Secondly parts of the cars like Grant steering should easy to come by incase the car needs maintenance and replacement.

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