Say hello to America's first electric highway

Is there an electric vehicle in your future? Then Washington state is the place to be. A stretch of I-5 that spans from Canada to Oregon is about to become America's first "electric highway" after a $1.32 million grant from the government.

Driving along the "electrified" I-5, instead of going for a gas station you'd look for what's called a Level-3 electric charging station, of which there will be 10 initially. Eventually, the state hopes to have a station every 80 miles (within the 100-mile range upcoming electric vehicles such as the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf are rated for). When you're running out of juice, you'd pull over and plug in instead of trying to find a pump.

Hey, wait, doesn't it take a while to charge a car? You're right — that's the downside. The charging stations charge at 400 volts, and it's thought that it'd take an average of 30 minutes to charge a car to up to 80%. That doesn't sound so bad, maybe. You could always grab a bite or something while you wait, right? On a road trip, though, you'd be running out of charge just under every two hours. You're looking at a lot of chow.

That, and 80% of that 100-mile range cuts it down to 80. Wouldn't you be coasting into every charging station? Sounds risky — or timely.

No matter what happens, it's an experiment to be excited about. This kind of infrastructure is what we need to make electric vehicles possible. The technology sounds like it may not be quite there yet, but it only gets better from here, and technology moves fast.

Autoblog Green, via Inhabitat