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Electric car charging stations tricky to find in LA

June 4, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
The emerging trend for saving gasoline has become electric cars.

They don't need gas, but they do need juice, which should be easy if your schedule is like most people's schedule.

"When you think about it, you're at work for eight hours, and you're home for more than eight hours. Your electric car can easily be charging during that time," said Mark Vaughn, west coast editor for AutoWeek.

Vaughn has been long-term testing the latest electric vehicles for the magazine and its website and now has a 240-volt charger at his house.

When out and about and need a top-up, maps can be found online that show where public charging stations are located. However, signs can sometimes be misleading because many of the charging stations found are now obsolete. Some have old connectors that are useless for a modern electric car.

Some of these non-working stations exist in Burbank, San Gabriel and Pasadena. The Los Angeles Zoo once had one, but there's no sign of it now.

Running the batteries down on a Chevy Volt is no big deal since it has an engine that takes over. But with pure electrics like the Leaf and others that will be coming along soon, once the battery dies, so does the car.

All Nissan dealers have charging stands available for Leafs. Other brands of electric cars are supposedly welcome too as long as they have the modern connector.

"I think businesses will see this as a draw," Vaughn said. "They can offer charging for drivers of electric cars as a way to bring in customers."

The bottom line for early adopters of electric vehicles: Until the public infrastructure is updated, charge at home and plan your driving wisely.

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