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Policy: Environment & Energy

Hawaii's Big Island advancing electric vehicles

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News,Business,Hawaii,Energy and Environment,Electric Vehicles

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii (AP) — Fans of electric vehicles are celebrating two developments on the Big Island.

A new fast-charging station is slated to open in South Kohala in July, and the Kona Nissan dealership has begun selling the all-electric Nissan Leaf, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported (http://bit.ly/1utN2Zu ).

Most of the island's charging stations are located around Kailua-Kona. But those traditional charging stations only allow a car to travel about 15 miles after a one-hour charge. That makes it difficult for drivers of electric cars to get around the island.

The quick-charging station will allow a car to go 60 miles after being plugged in for an hour. It was installed at the Shops at Mauna Lani by the smart grid technology company Charge Bliss.

The Big Island's distances, heat and steep terrain present challenges to electric cars. Mileage rates are based on vehicles traveling on flat surfaces with no air conditioning, limited occupants and the windows rolled up.

The slower, smaller-range charging stations cost about $2,500, but a faster chargers like the one at Mauna Lani can cost about $60,000, said Doug March, vice president of sales at Charge Bliss. The company plans to install eight or nine charging stations around the island, said its CEO, David Bliss.

The Leaf became available at the Nissan dealership in May. The company sent technicians to the mainland and is ready with chargers and tools to service vehicles, said Justin Ako, service adviser at Kona Nissan.

"We sold a bunch and just got a bunch in," Ako said. "The sales department tells me a lot of people have been asking about them."

Owners of electric cars said the developments are overdue.

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Information from: Hawaii Tribune-Herald, http://www.hawaiitribune-herald.com/

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