The small Route 66 town of Atlanta, Ill., has added a charging station for electric vehicles just a half-block off old Route 66, reported the Bloomington Pantagraph.
Bill Thomas, a director for the Atlanta Betterment Fund economic development group, compared the adding of a charging station to gas stations before the Route 66 era began in 1926.
“Prior to Route 66, there really was no established infrastructure of business at which the new traveling public could fill up their car with gas. […] All sorts of other businesses, like hardware stores, grocery stores and general stores, installed gas pumps in front of their establishments where motorists could fill up. What we think of as gas stations didn’t exist. They came when entrepreneurs recognized the need for them and built them as a way of making money from Route 66 travelers.”
And Mayor Fred Finchum also sees the charging station as a way to get a few tourists to visit Atlanta’s downtown:
“We’re into the next evolution of Route 66 and we hope that it becomes an opportunity to promote tourism and what we have to offer here. […] Every time you draw someone to your community, you have a chance of selling something. For a full charge on a car, it takes three to four hours, so people have time to eat, shop, and visit our downtown.”
The two officials think the charging station’s location is ideal because Atlanta is about halfway between Chicago to St. Louis. A fill-up for an EV will be free of charge, they said. They figure the revenue from EV-driving visitors spending money downtown will more than cover the cost of the electricity.
CarStations.com, an online guide to charging stations, already has the Atlanta one listed and mapped.
Current electric cars won’t make it from downtown Chicago to Atlanta on a single charge, because their range tops out at about 100 miles. It’s 150 miles from downtown Chicago to Atlanta, and about 140 from St. Louis to Atlanta.
However, EVs’ range will undoubtedly improve in the coming years. And a bunch of new gas-electric plug-in hybrids are coming on the market — including one by Ford that’s getting a lot of attention.