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First fully converted ‘gas-to-electric’ station opens in the US

Image credit: Electric vehicle institute

A former petrol station which has been fully converted into an electric vehicle (EV) charging point has opened in Maryland, becoming the first such facility in the US.

The station, RS Automotives, first opened in Takoma Park, Maryland, in 1958 and operated for decades as a petrol station.

Since 1997, the station has been owned by Despeswar Doley. Doley explained that his unhappiness with the structure of contracts with fossil fuel companies – such as by restricting the use of multiple suppliers, limiting maintenance support and extending contracts if certain sale targets are not met – motivated his decision to switch over to offer EV charging.

He told CNBC that his young daughter gave him the final nudge to convert RS Automotives: “My daughter, who is 17, she is the one who convinced me after I told her that I was going to talk to the [EV Institute, based in Maryland],” he said. The EV Institute supported the switchover along with the Maryland Energy Administration, which provided a $786,000 (£639,000) grant.

Doley added that he was not overly concerned about the impact of the switchover on his income and said that it is a “good cause, good for the environment”.

There are more than 20,000 EVs registered for road use in Maryland, in addition to a local electric taxi service. Prior to RS Automotives’ conversion, Takoma Park had just two electric chargers.

The revamped RS Automotives station can charge up to four vehicles simultaneously to 80 per cent battery capacity in 20 to 30 minutes with a powerful 200kW system. Drivers can sit inside the site's comfortable shop, which is fitted with screens for tracking the charging progress while they wait.

In a statement, Governor of Maryland Larry Hogan commented: “Maryland is proud to be a national leader when it comes to clean and renewable energy, climate change and the promotion of electric infrastructure and vehicles. This fully converted gas-to-electric charging station is a prime example of our administration’s commitment to the environment and transportation.”

A considerable expansion of EV infrastructure is necessary to render the widespread adoption of EVs and hybrid cars practical in the US and elsewhere; California-based start-up ChargePoint alone is aiming to build 2.5 million EV chargers by 2025.

The UK government has dedicated some funding to support the installation of more EV charging points, including rapid-charging systems and options for EV owners without access to off-street parking, such as incorporating charging points into existing infrastructure. In June, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan launched an EV infrastructure delivery plan which aims to increase the number of rapid charging points in London to 300 by the end of 2020, in addition to over 3,500 slow-to-fast chargers, and the establishment of two large EV charging hubs.

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