by Sayaka Matsuoka

Electric cars are the future.

At the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this week, author Levi Tilleman observed: “Every auto maker worth their salt had an electric vehicle on the floor.” The list spanned specialized makes including Tesla and Smart, companies such as Honda and Chevy and luxury lines from BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi.

Tilleman, who spoke on “Marketplace” on Jan. 15, is the author of The Great Race: The Global Quest for the Car of the Future. He believes that not only are electric cars the future, but they will drive themselves. With the automated Google car just on the market horizon, he’s probably not wrong.

All these cars will need charging stations, and there aren’t many out there just yet.

Although we have some here in the Triad, there are not nearly enough. Piedmont Triad International Airport recently installed four charging stations this past summer. Right now, owners can use the stations for free if they pay for parking and charge their cars in as little 12 hours. It is currently the only airport in North Carolina that supplies the convenience for electric-car owners. The Twin City boasts two stations on Main St near the entrance for the greenway for owners to charge up. There are plans in the works for Greensboro to build some stations downtown as well.

Picture going to Ham’s restaurant on Elm St and charging your car while you scarf down some ribs. The city plans to install some stations in the South Elm parking lot where owners would be able to charge their vehicles after paying for parking. City council approved the project that would only take a couple months to finish last March but no physical progress can been seen almost 10 months later. There is bound to be demand for the stations, with an estimated 100 electric cars zipping around Guilford County alone according to Stephen Carter of the city transportation department. Surely the number has grown since then. Although increasingly low gas prices have been a problem for electric car sales in the past, the demand for them will only increase as emphasis on clean energy and sustainability continues. Right now, it seems that most owners charge up at home as seen by cars that line the streets of Fisher Park, being charged from solar paneled houses.

Let’s hope that High Point catches up by installing some stations along Main Street and that my alma mater UNCG adds some to campus as part of its increased push for sustainability and environmental awareness. The quicker we stop ignoring the inevitable and start making the preparations, the sooner we could all be driving a Leaf or a Spark, and that just sounds cool.

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