Carl Lisek and his wife have two electric cars and have traveled long distances in them.
But Lisek, executive director of Drive Clean Indiana, which promotes the use of alternative fuels, admits they have been concerned about finding the next charging station on long trips.
“Do we have range anxiety?” he said. “Yes, but it’s getting better.”
Two programs underway now aim to build more electric vehicle charging stations along Indiana roadways to reduce range anxiety among drivers.
The Indiana Department of Transportation recently submitted to a federal agency its plan to build electric vehicle charging stations every 50 miles along major Indiana highways: all interstates, plus US 31 from South Bend to Indianapolis. .
The new charging stations would be DC Fast chargers, which charge vehicle batteries with direct current and are faster than level 1 and 2 chargers, which use household-type alternating current electricity.
In the future, the state wants to add an EV corridor along US 30 in northern Indiana.
By October, INDOT expects to begin spending nearly $100 million of federal money to build the new electric vehicle charging network over the next four years.
The national goal is to have 500,000 EV chargers nationwide by 2030.
The money comes from the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) program funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act that Congress passed in 2021.
Additionally, a program overseen by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management plans to build 61 new DC Fast EV charging stations, for commuters, across Indiana by 2023. Ten of them would be in Lake and Porter counties.
IDEM is also working with municipalities and businesses to install 11 Level 2 charging stations in Lake and Porter counties.
The IDEM program is funded by $2.7 billion appropriated nationally by automaker Volkswagen as part of its penalty for manufacturing vehicles that violated emission standards and tried to cheat emission testing stations.
IDEM’s Volkswagen of Indiana Mitigation Trust Program plans to announce its electric vehicle installation plans at Drive Clean Indiana’s annual conference in Michigan City on August 9.
Additionally, EV automaker Tesla already has a network of its own charging stations in Indiana.
There are currently more than 300 electric vehicle charging stations spread across Indiana, though most don’t meet the newest standards for fast-charging power or location near an interstate highway.
The busiest in northwest Indiana right now, Lisek said, is in downtown Chesterton.
According to the INDOT plan, about 6,990 electric vehicles are registered in Indiana now, just over one-tenth of one percent of all vehicles in the state.
Increasing that number to reduce the environmental burden created by gasoline and diesel vehicles will require “a lot of education, a lot of collaboration,” Lisek said.
“The new EVs are very sophisticated, very responsive,” he said, adding that he just bought a Ford Mustang EV. “The technology is just amazing.”
And he added that newer electric vehicles have displays that show where and how far away the nearest charging station is.
For more information on INDOT’s plan to build EV charging stations, see www.in.gov/indot/files/INDOT-EV-Deployment-Plan_DRAFT_7-20-22.pdf
Tim Zorn is a freelance reporter for the Post-Tribune.