By Ben Geman - 04/19/11 05:28 PM EDT
“Through this collaboration, key players from the electric vehicle and online mapping industries are coming together to ensure a consistent source of charging station location data that will allow consumers to find every charging station throughout the country,” said Witt Sparks, a project manager with the department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
The dozens of other participants in the partnership include Pacific Gas and Electric, Best Buy and TomTom, a navigation equipment company.
The renewable energy lab, in a description of the project, noted that while most electric car charging is expected to occur at drovers’ homes, “publicly accessible charging stations extend the range of plug-in electric vehicles, giving consumers more choices for charging while on trips.”
“The partnership will ensure consumers have access to charging station location data that's inclusive of all equipment manufacturers and charging networks,” the lab states.
The Energy Department also said it’s making $5 million available for communities to deploy electric-vehicle infrastructure and charging stations. Local governments and private companies will form partnerships to apply for a piece of the money, the department said.
“Communities will work to develop plans and strategies for EV deployment, update their EV permitting processes, develop incentive programs, or launch other local or regional initiatives that improve the experience of EV users and help bring these highly energy-efficient vehicles in the marketplace,” the department said in its announcement.
The Obama administration sees electric vehicles as a pivotal technology that can help reduce oil reliance. The Energy Department is aiming to knock down barriers to deployment through steps including R&D into advanced batteries that will have more range.
Automakers including Chevrolet and Nissan have begun marketing electric vehicles, but it remains a niche product.