Electric-car owners tooling around downtown now can top off their “tank” at Westar Energy’s new charging station.
The company is offering the charge free of, well, charge.
The company inaugurated the charger at its office at 100 N. Broadway, its second after one in Topeka, as a way to push electric cars a little higher in the public’s consciousness, said Westar executive vice president Jim Ludwig. The company held a small ceremony Thursday morning.
“Obviously, we support electrical vehicles,” he said. “We want to be ready for electric cars before our customers are ready for electric cars.”
The charger is 240 volts, which means it charges twice as fast as the typical 120-volt outlet in households. The company operates a small fleet of electric cars that will use the charger.
The public won’t see a lot of chargers like Westar’s, Ludwig said. Electric-car owners will typically charge their cars overnight in their garage, rather than at a public charging station similar to gas stations.
“That’s one of their big appeals, the convenience of filling up at home,” he said.
Operating an electric car is cheaper, he said. He said the electrical equivalent of a gallon of gas costs 90 cents and electrical motors tend to last longer.
Ludwig understands that electric cars have plenty of detractors, but he sees them as having a big place in the future.
The Nissan Leaf and Ford Transit have ranges of about 80 to 90 miles on a full charge, he said. But the short range on a charge and lengthy time it takes to recharge will limit the appeal of electric cars, Ludwig acknowledged.
But, he said, technology on electric cars and batteries is improving all the time, slowly pushing electric cars into the mainstream.