The Shocking Electric Automobile

Background Reading




Last month, Kansas City, Mo. shocked the nation by launching an ambitious planto install over 1,000 electric vehicle charging stations within its city limits, leaving traditional EV-lovers on the coast in a cloud of carbon monoxide-free dust. Kansas City’s plan will increase its public charging stations by 2,400 percent, up from 40 stations that are currently available.

Just to put this news into perspective: There are only 9,019 registered public electric charging stations in the entire country — and most EV-friendly cities are located in the Pacific Northwest, in California, and on the East Coast — y’know, all the regions you’d most expect to have a fleet of matching sea foam green Nissan Leafs lined up neatly in the co-op parking lot. But while we still tip our hats to California, the state currently operates 2,000 public charging stations, a number that is now shadowed by one city’s plan to install half as many. For perspective: California has one station for every 19,000 residents, whereas Kansas City would have one per 467.

Kansas City’s move toward emissions reductions left us wondering what other electric vehicle meccas are out there in the oft-overlooked Midwestern states. We found a number of powerhouse cities that are quietly leading the charge for plug-in autos, and whittled them down to a list of four other surprising EVtopias:

Chicago City EscapeRodrigo Bernal

Chicago City EscapeRodrigo Bernal

1.  Starting first with the Second City, Chicago, and the surrounding area: In November, Governor Pat Quinn announced a plan to invest $1 million in a network of charging stations along Illinois’ famous Route 66. Governor Quinn, along with a number of local government leaders, want to make the Illinois portion of the storied highway into an “Electric Corridor,” between Lake Michigan and the Mississippi River. They’re installing seven charging stations to be finished by the summer of 2015. Imagine taking to the open road with your best friend in an bright red electric convertible — zooming down Route 66, stopping to charge up the beast while you survey the beauty of the wide-open plains. It’s like a 21st century Thelma and Louise, but hopefully with a happier ending.


Chicago like many other Midwestern cities is flat. And given the wonderful highways in our area it makes for great weekend journeys in an electric automobile. In fact it makes a great trip in anything electric.

Just yesterday we toured the Fox River Trail with a couple riding electric bicycles.