Hawaii to Electric Car “What Napa Valley is to Grapes”
By Wendy Osher
A public event will be held on Maui, announcing the availability of the island’s newest electric vehicle (EV) charging station.
The “Drive Electric Maui” event runs from 3 to 5 p.m. on Friday, March 9th, at Better Place in the Kihei Foodland plaza, the site of the new charging station.
Better Place, a leading global provider of electric car networks, will host the event, which includes a demonstration on how to charge an EV, how EVs work, and how far they can go on one charge.
There will also be a Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt on hand for inspection.
“This is good news for fans of zero-emission vehicles,” said Anne Ku, Director of Maui EVA (Maui Electric Vehicle Alliance) in a statement today.
“This is a milestone in our effort to get Maui ready for EVs. We are thrilled that the general public can finally see and access a charging station,” said Ku.
Last December, when the group conducted a survey of the attendees of the movie Revenge of the Electric Car, most people had never seen an EV, let alone a charging station, according to Ku.
“The first truly mass-produced electric cars are driving on our Hawaii roads and more are headed our way,” said Brian Goldstein, director of Better Place in Hawaii.
“This ‘Drive Electric Days’ event will help raise awareness of the many benefits electric cars offer and the Better Place network of charge spots on Maui, Kauai, the Big Island and Oahu, offering more public charge points per capita in Hawaii than any other state,” said Goldstein.
Current EV owners – or those planning to purchase one this year – will be able to sign up for a Better Place membership and charge their cars for free through 2012.
The new Kihei charging station brings to seven the total number of charging locations offered by Better Place on Maui.
The new station is part of Better Place’s rollout of the largest electric car charging network in the state. By the end of 2012 the company will have more than 130 charge points throughout the Hawaiian islands.
The list of charging stations on Maui includes: Wailea Marriott; Jim Falk Motors of Maui; Maui Electric; Maui Electric – ChargePoint; Kihei Town Center (Kihei Foodland); Four Seasons parking structure; The Westin Maui Resort & Spa in the valet parking lot; Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa on the 2nd floor of the parking garage; Alamo Rent-a-Car, Kaanapali (not open to the public); Kahana Gateway Retail; and Alamo Rent-a-Car at the Kahului Airport.
Short commutes and an ideal climate for battery operation are among the favorable conditions highlighted by Maui EVA member and Hawaii Automobile Dealers Association Executive Director, Dave Rolf.
“Hawaii is to the electric car what Napa Valley is to the grape—perfect conditions,” he said.
Fellow Maui EVA member and Sierra Club Board member, Lance Holter said the level of interest from all sectors of Maui’s community is strong. “I look forward to the day when we can all say we walked the talk and led Hawaii off its dependence upon imported energy,” said Holter.
Maui’s major hotels are also part of the growing network and are developing charging stations in anticipation of the shift in rental fleet inventory to electric vehicles.
“The arrival of electric vehicles to Maui is an exciting development, which we hope will mark the beginning of a significant transition to alternative fuels,” said Carol Reimann, executive director of the Maui Hotel & Lodging Association.
The University of Hawai’i Maui College is planning the installation of charging stations on campus in anticipation of the concept shift and is investigating EV training for its automotive program.
“In the next year, we are going to see a shift from concept to reality – and we would rather be prepared than rushing to catch up,” said UHMC Chancellor Clyde Sakamoto.
*** Supporting information courtesy UHMC.