In the past half year since major manufacturer EVs and EREVs began to roll out, we’ve heard from the enthusiastic and we’ve heard everything from subtle-to-overt digs by critics at the idea of an electric future.

Well, the states of Washington, Oregon and California are all card carrying members in the EV Proponent camp as evidenced by many commitments, including their installation of fast charging stations along the I-5 freeway from Canada to Mexico.

The plan to electrify the 1,350 mile route touching three states and three countries has been known by a few names since the governors of California, Oregon, Washington and the Premier of British Columbia signed a compact on Feb. 12, 2010 to foster several green initiatives.


Artist's rendition of 480-volt DC-fast charger on the Green Highway.

It has been termed “the West Coast Green Highway ,” and the phrase to describe the route is from “BC to Baja” (British Columbia to Baja, California).

The premise that planners are working on is that by 2020 two million EVs will be on the road in the U.S., and, as is true for other states, these states particularly want to be ready as can be.

It appears Oregon and Washington are furthest along, and it is expected that by fall this year it will be possible to travel in a Battery Electric Vehicle along I-5 all the way from the Washington/Canadian border to the Oregon/California border, if not further.

We are told California is also on board with the project, it is definitely rolling out charging stations, especially in its major urban centers, but we were not able to reach the state's project representative by deadline for a full I-5 progress report.

Overall, the plan is infrastructure will consist of high-DC-voltage CHAdeMO chargers to replenish compliant vehicles like the Nissan LEAF in under 30 minutes, and 240-volt J1772 chargers to recharge the LEAF and other EVs including the Chevrolet Volt in a few hours.


Prototype CHAdeMO charger and spec sheet.

While some will observe the Volt can get by without this network because it has a gasoline generator, since the idea is to stay in all-electric mode, the network will make that more possible for some West Coast travelers.

Regarding the Washington state project, it will have nine CHAdeMO DC fast-charger-equipped stations along its portion of I-5 as well as a number of Level 2 chargers.

The stations will be located between 40-60 miles apart, which means skipping one won’t be much of an option unless driving a Volt, Fisker Karma or Tesla.

The stations will be located at privately owned retail locations including shopping malls, petrol fueling stations, and travel centers. They will be proximal to convenient highway exit/entry points for EV drivers to keep motoring along.



Washington’s $1 million project is being conducted through its state Department of Transportation, and the private company, AeroVironment is supplying the chargers.

“A network of charging stations linking Washington to Oregon and Canada will make electric vehicles more attractive to consumers and businesses, and transportation better for the environment,” said Washington’s Secretary of Transportation Paula Hammond.

Beyond the AeroVironment project, expected to be done by November 30, The Detroit Bureau reported additional charging stations will be installed through the The EV Project, administered by the U.S. Department of Energy. Combined, the two projects will electrify the entire 276-mile length of I-5 through Washington.

We also spoke yesterday with Art James, Innovative Partnerships project director for the Oregon Department of Transportation .

He said eight CHAdeMO DC fast-charger-equipped stations will be installed from Eugene down to the California border by some time in October, and by the end of the year hundreds of Level 2 chargers being installed by ECOtality under the EV Project will be in place.

The idea is the same for locating the chargers. They will be in convenient retail areas for drivers to exit the highway, recharge, and continue.

As many of you know, On Aug. 5, 2009, ECOtality was awarded a $99.8 million dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, and the EV Project was officially launched on October 1, 2009 and will continue approximately 36 months.


A sign of the times.

Its 14,000 chargers will help greatly with making EVs practical in Phoenix and Tucson, Ariz., San Diego, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Portland, Eugene, Salem, Corvallis, Ore., Seattle, Nashville, Knoxville, Tenn., Memphis, Tenn., Chattanooga, Tenn., Washington D.C., Dallas, Fort Worth, and Houston.

In the mean time, EV drivers able to embark on an all-electric trip along I-5 should be clear to travel the states of Oregon and Washington by Thanksgiving time this year, and in due time, California is expected to follow as well for those who want to go the whole way from BC to Baja.

The Detroit Bureau