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Duke plugs in to electric vehicle website

Charlotte-based Duke Energy is part of a new online resource designed for those looking to find out more about plug-in electric vehicles.

Washington, D.C.-based Electric Drive Transportation Association, of which Duke Energy is a founding member, launched goelectricdrive.com last week. The site provides information about charging infrastructure, incentives and costs, as well as videos and a virtual showroom featuring details on nearly 20 new plug-in electric vehicles.

Duke Energy spokesman Greg Efthimiou said the information is particularly useful for Charlotteans, as the city is planning to install 20 vehicle-charging stations and a Mooresville company is launching new models of plug-in vehicles.

In addition to helping launch the new website, Duke has been working with automakers, charging infrastructure companies and other utilities for the past several years, Efthimiou said.

“Duke Energy is trying to help customers think through what the experience will be like if they buy an electric car and take it home,” he said. “We want to make sure they have the ability to safely and conveniently charge that vehicle.”

To help get a better idea of details, such as required charging times and the impact on the local electrical grid, Efthimiou said Duke will start buying new electric vehicles such as the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf next year. Efthimiou said Duke should have 10 of each by the end of 2011.

“This will help us start a conversation with our customers about the electrical vehicle revolution that may be coming,” he said.

Duke is also advising local governments and large employers to consider putting charging locations at their sites, Efthimiou said, although 90 percent of all charging is expected to take place at home.

“Our position is you need to have just enough public charging infrastructure to help customers get from point A to point C, without getting stuck at point B,” he said.

Efthimiou said that as technology progresses, Duke expects to offer special rates and package programs that will help customers save money on charging electrical vehicles.

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