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Arizona to add more electric vehicle charging stations

Posted at 6:44 PM, Mar 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-04 12:26:37-05

In February, the Department of Energy announced Arizona is getting $76.5 million over the next five years to build up its electric vehicle infrastructure. The hope is that eventually more people will buy electric cars.

Like an oasis in the desert, the partially solar-powered Tesla electric vehicle charging station at the Biltmore Camelback is a main watering hole.

"The Tesla chargers are the only ones worth stopping for," said driver Austin Watts. "The rest of them just take too long," he said.

Watts uses his Tesla to drive for Uber part-time and says electric is the only way to roll.

"It's the best. Have you seen the price of gas? It's pretty bad," Watts said. "There's no maintenance, no nothing, more efficient...better. It's just great," he said, raving about his electric car.

As far as changing stations go, however, Watts said there's a great need for more.

"Phoenix is a little bit behind on the amount of chargers. There's only three in all Phoenix, most cities have like ten."

According to the DOE Alternative Fuels Data Center, there are currently 868 charging stations in all of Arizona.

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In this first phase, the state will get $11.3 million this year alone to build more, specifically around highway corridors.

This is part of an overall five-year $5-billion plan to increase the number of charging stations nationwide from 46,000 to 500,000.

"Electricity is about 50 cents compared to a gallon of gas," said Jim Stack, President of the Phoenix Electric Auto Association.

Stack is thrilled with the government plan.

"With this new plan, it's almost something like 10,000 chargers per state. That's just unbelievable!" Stack said. "You can put them on every major, minor highway system."

Stack has been into electric cars for the past 20 years, back when people had to replace a gas engine themselves and drop in a battery to convert and make their own electric vehicles.

Stack said he's glad electric vehicle owners will soon have more options and not worry about running out of juice.

"You wouldn't even have to think about it. It would be like gas stations, every corner you go and look for which one do I want, and who's got the best price," he said.

With Arizona approaching 29,000 electric cars, road trips are a breeze.

Most EVs get around 300 miles to the charge. Stack says with more charging stations, drivers won't worry about range and even more people will buy EVs.

"I have a real fondness for Route 66, a historic highway. We would love to have chargers there every 50 miles so everybody could go visit," Stack said.

"If you have a Tesla, it's a no-brainer. You just pop a button on your screen and every charger comes up. You hit a button, it takes you to the closest one," he said. "But if you wanted to go to Las Vegas or down to Tucson, there's only really one place in Casa Grande to stop on the way to Tucson. It would be nice to have a few more along the way."

"There's no transmission, no brake wear, there's no maintenance," Stack said. "You just drive it and have fun."

ADOT spokesperson Doug Nick said they're aware of the federal plan to increase funding for EV infrastructure, but says it's too early to release any official action plan.