Electric vehicles get more options as charging demands rise


I got to take the Focus EV for a quick spin with Ford CEO Alan Mulally riding shotgun. He says Ford, like other companies, is looking to the future.

"We have the point of view that fuel efficiency is going to be very, very important for all of us going forward," Mulally said. "We want everybody to have the power of choice to get a vehicle that they need and works for them from Ford."

There are downsides to the Focus EV, as with other electric vehicles. The cost is $41,000, though incentives can knock that price down significantly. Then there's the question of where to get juice when you need some.

"We need to build the infrastructure to kind of reduce that anxiety that a lot of potential buyers have about having the right support in case they run out of a charge," said Mike Johnson of the Auto Club of Southern California.

The Auto Club just unveiled charging stations at three of its larger locations, free to use whether you're an AAA member or not.

As electric cars become more popular, you'll find more places to plug them in. At the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, three new Adopt a Chargers have been set up and are also free to use. Sponsors adopt them and pay for the power. The ones at LACMA are courtesy of Nissan.

Even with more and more charging stations out in the public for your electric car, you could still run out of electricity if you're not careful. If that should happen, you can now call on the Auto Club, just like you would if you ran out of gas. A special new roadside assistance truck can juice up an EV quickly if it goes dead on the road.

That doesn't have to happen, of course. So-called opportunistic charging can be part of your driving plan. The Focus has circuitry for faster charging, and you can get an app to help you find charging stations.

"We like to think that we can charge between 20 and 30 miles for every charge hour, so if you're inside for half an hour, you're getting between 10 and 15 miles of replenished battery," said Julie Roehner, a Ford engineer.

Electric car chargers still aren't everywhere. But there are more now than there were last year and more are being built all the time, just as more electric cars are hitting the road.

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