Electric hybrid vehicles could begin appearing on South Carolina roads soon as Chevrolet and Nissan begin selling their respective versions of the cars in the Carolinas.
Chevrolet announced it would begin delivering its Volt hybrid to South Carolina dealers in August. That comes after Nissan this week began opening up sales of its LEAF electric car in the state.
Other automakers are also eyeing the Carolinas in the coming years. Ford is considering marketing its Focus-Electric in the Palmetto State, as is BMW with its ACTIVE E. “I don’t foresee large volumes, but I do see a lot of choice and a lot of selection in the next year or two,” said Jim Poch, executive director of Plug-In Carolina, a non-profit group sponsored by the state’s utility companies.
Right now, with price tags upwards of $32,000 for the Nissan and nearly $40,000 for the Ford, only wealthier car buyers are being targeted. Customers can apply for a $7,500 tax credit that brings the price down.
Hybrid cars are limited in how long they can run before the electric battery needs recharging and the gas combustion engine takes over. The new stations are meant to help those who need to drive longer than a half-hour, such as commuters.
The stations take about a half-hour to recharge a car’s battery. That means the units would need to be in areas where a person is willing to wait for that amount of time. Most cities are putting the stations in municipal parking garages, where their cost would be covered by the parking fee.
Poch said 53 stations are already in place in Columbia, Greenville, Spartanburg, Rock Hill, and Union. The organization is a bit behind on its original goal of 80 stations by the end of January. Poch said that was mostly due to permitting issues that have since been resolved. “We really think we’re going to exceed our goal. We started out wanting to do 60 charging stations,” he said, “We’ll probably get up to maybe 100 when it’s all said and done.”
He said more stations will be installed in Myrtle Beach and Charleston in the next two months. Sphinx Motor Fuels has also begun providing similar stations at a few of its South Carolina facilities.