FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT) -- The technology for electric vehicles has come along way. Now, many EV’s have ranges of 300 plus miles, so you may not need charging stations as often.
However when you do, you have to know where they are, which can be a problem, but the city is hoping to solve that problem.
They hope to install 27 new EV charging stations at ten locations throughout Fort Wayne, including downtown.
The network of charging stations will tell users the location of each station if it's in use and other information that some EV drivers don't have access to right now.
"The more charging points that are out there, the better for everyone," is what Christian Bridgwater has to say about the idea.
Bridgwater switched from gas-powered to an electric vehicle two years ago.
"I just wanted a car that was a little easier to maintain," Bridgwater said. "One that didn’t consume fossil fuels and then one that had a high-performance capability, and that kind of all came together in an electric vehicle."
General Manager at Kelley Chevrolet Chuck Kelley says Bridgwater is one of many people making the switch.
"Well, the sales are definitely trending up. We know that electrification is a part of the future and we know that by 2035, all Chevrolets will be either electric or hydrogen fuel cell, so it’s definitely the way people are going," Kelley says.
The 27 new EV charging stations is the City of Fort Wayne's solution to start preparing for that growing demand.
A $90,000 grant from the VW emissions settlement is helping offset some of the installation costs, with a total project cost of $254,142, according to documents from City Council.
Bridgwater thinks it will make the city more attractive to outsiders.
"If I lived in an outlying area, if I lived over in Ohio, if I lived in southern Michigan and I was coming into fort Wayne to visit, I would want that. I would need that, potentially, so I could get my vehicle charged and get home.”
Director of Public Works for Fort Wayne, Shan Gunawardena, says this is part of the city’s goal to attract visitors.
"Within the next five years, the automotive industry is going to make, pretty much, every vehicle that is being produced available with an electric options," Gunawardena explained. "We want to make sure that when that happens, we’re ready with our infrastructure so that we don’t get behind when it comes to marketing ourselves as a viable community for economic development."
The city’s other goal, to become more environmentally friendly.
With more electric vehicles on the road, this will help the city achieve that goal.
Gunawardena says the City hopes to organically grow the demand for electric vehicles here locally by building some of the initial charging stations, with the private sector taking on that responsibility in the future as the demand for EV's grow.
Gunawardena says they're taking cues from Kansas City, who did something similar, but more ambitious, installing 1,001 charging stations.
They have now because the 2nd largest market for EV's, according to Gunawardena.
He also points to studies done by the Department of Energy that say what Fort Wayne plans to do will help them reach their goals.
"As long as the infrastructure is available, you will have more people purchasing electric vehicles," Gunawardena says.
Installation is set to begin in Spring of 2021 and be completed by the end of 2022.
Locations for the electric vehicle stations and the number of stations include:
- Allen County Public Library downtown branch, 2
- Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, 4
- Berry Street parking, 3
- Foster Park, 2
- Jefferson Pointe, 2
- Meijer at Dupont and Diebold roads (future location of store), 2
- Meijer on Lima Road, 2
- Meijer on Maysville Road, 5
- Skyline Garage at Ash Skyline Plaza, 2
- Wayne Street parking, 3