Plugging along

Reno’s infrastructure for electric vehicles is steadily improving

This charging station, located next to a gas station in the parking lot of Einstein Bros Bagels on South McCarran Boulevard, is one of several throughout the city.

This charging station, located next to a gas station in the parking lot of Einstein Bros Bagels on South McCarran Boulevard, is one of several throughout the city.


To find charging stations throughout the region, visit

As of last week, Reno has two more electric vehicle supply equipment stations (EVSEs), making the total public EVSEs for the region—10.

The new EVSEs, located on East Ninth Street, are part of Washoe County’s Clean Air Campaign, according to Kevin Dick, director of the air quality management.

“The gasoline powered motors and diesel powered motors are a problem for us,” he said at the ribbon cutting for the new charging stations. “That’s something everyone is driving around in, and it’s difficult to regulate. We do have the smog check program that helps keep their vehicles tuned, but we also recognize that we have to have better solutions in our community.”

It’s been a tumultuous year for electric vehicles (EVs). On one hand, most responses to EVs have been positive.

“Here is the second true launch year, and the [Chevrolet] Volt is now selling better than half the cars on the market,” says Travis Johnson, manager of emerging technologies and electric transportation. “Just under 3,000 a month [nationally]. That’s what GM wanted to see, the sales signifying success. … There are over 57,000 new plug-in vehicles in the country. There’s certainly a lot of good news out there.”

Here in Nevada, 358 plug-in vehicles are registered by the Department of Motor Vehicles, including 122 Volts, 60 Nissan LEAFs, 11 Fisker Karmas and 16 Tesla Roadsters, among others.

On the other hand, Johnson says the political climate targeted EV manufacturers negatively, most notably luxury car companies like Fisker and Tesla. And the prices of EVs—generally a minimum of $25,000—aren’t exactly affordable for car buyers in a struggling economy, although the $7,500 rebate is often considered worth the investment.

But footage of the long lines in front of gas stations during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy brought EVs into the spotlight again as part of a larger look at alternative transportation. Locally, Johnson is part of a task force—formerly called the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Readiness Task Force, but now just the Nevada Electric Vehicle Accelerator—working on developing infrastructure for EVs, and last year referred to 2012 as the “year of the electric vehicle.” He says many of the goals have been met, through opening new charging stations and holding a local celebration for National Plug In Day (“Switching gears,” Sept. 20).

And it’s not just the charging station that’s important, he says, but also the location. Currently the 10 EVSEs are located throughout the city in high traffic areas, and can be found on a map of Reno at Nevada EVA’s website,

He says the move to integrating more charging stations throughout the region, including Truckee, Tahoe and Carson City, will hopefully give consumers confidence in making longer journeys with EVs.

“Having one in Carson City gives you that extra insurance that you can try to make it up to South Lake,” he says. Johnson notes that he has taken his family on trips to Truckee and Tahoe City in a Nissan LEAF.

More charging stations and programs are slated for 2013, Johnson says.