Highland city leaders hope a small investment for those who have opted to drive green will end up producing some green of another variety for businesses downtown.
Earlier this month, the city installed an electric vehicle charging section at the Square, where drivers of all-electric vehicles juice up for free.
Dan Cook, Highland’s director of Light & Power, said the city wanted to provide a way for downtown patrons who drive electric vehicles to charge their car while they explore the nearby shops and restaurants.
“It is economic development, and it is green,” Cook said.
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Cook said that the city was able to install the station at virtually no cost and will be able to maintain it with minimal effort or further investment.
The new device, an EVlink station from Schneider Electric, is a 40-amp charger that communicates directly with the car. Cook said only costs about 50 cents per hour when its charging a vehicle. Cook estimated that at the most it will cost the Electric Department $200 annually.
“An average electric vehicle will charge at somewhere between two and four hours, fully,” Cook said. “But obviously, if you are here an hour, it’s going to give you a half to a quarter of a charge, and it’ll get you back to where you are going at your next stop.”
As for safety, Cook said the station does not always produce a charge. Because it communicates with the vehicle, the station does not send juice flowing until it is connected to a car.
Cook said the city will be observing how the station goes over in Highland before any more might be installed. As for now, the one station is open to anyone.
“We’re happy to have you come by and see it, happy to have you come by and use it,” Cook said.
Are there electric cars in Highland?
The Illinois Secretary of State estimated that in 2016 there were a total of 10.4 million cars registered in the state of Illinois. About about .07 percent of those cars — 7,465 — are all-electric. Out of those cars, five of them are in Highland, according to the Secretary of State.
Can you buy one in Highland?
The Square is not the only place in Highland to have a charging station. McGinley Dodge Chrysler Jeep RAM Kawasaki, located at 7 Shamrock Boulevard in Highland, has had a charging port at its building for over a year, according to the business’s general manager, Mike Naylor.
“I think it is good, forward thinking by the city of Highland to have a charging station on the Square,” Naylor said. “Currently, hybrid/electric vehicles make up a very small percentage of overall vehicle sales in this country, but with ever-changing technology, that number could grow.”
While the dealership does not currently offer an all-eletric option, Naylor said that Chrysler is the only company that produces a hybrid minivan, their model is called the Pacifica hybrid.
“It is winning several awards due to its 84 MPGe and its overall size and people-moving ability,” Naylor said. “Most people think of a small car platform as the only hybrids available, but that is just not true, with the Pacifica hybrid. We are currently taking sold orders for the Chrysler Pacifica at McGinley Chrysler Dodge Jeep RAM.”
Eric Rehkemper of Tri Ford in Highland was a little less optimistic about the future of all-electric cars in locally. He said he would estimate that all-electric cars currently make up less than 1 percent of the overall auto market. He also hypothesized that while electric car sales will go up in the future in other areas, he is not sure it is a trend that will come to Highland.
Rehkemper said that he thought this in part because of the communities rural and agricultural background and more customers are more apt to buy larger vehicles, like trucks, they can use for hauling. That being said, if anyone is interested in buying an electric car, Tri Ford can help them out, Rehkemper said.
A representative from Steve Schmitt, Inc. in Highland could not be reached for comment.