California is the birthplace of the coming EV invasion, but a tiny town in Iowa wants to be the birthplace of a “Pony Express” of charging stations that will keep those cars going.

Businessman Mike Howard has erected four charging stations in Elk Horn, a town of 650 people about an hour east of Omaha. He has plans to install four more soon. No, that’s not many at all, and they’re in the middle of nowhere. But Howard says you’ve got to start somewhere, especially if you envision a network of charging stations stretching from Denver to Chicago along Interstate 80. He likens his network to the Pony Express.

“They had to have stations to continue on to deliver the mail,” Howard told the Associated Press. “This is a modern-day Pony Express.”

Many automakers are developing electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids, and cars like the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf are expected by the end of next year. The big question has been where people are supposed to plug them in when they aren’t home. We’ve seen campaigns to create “charging corridors” spring up in California and Arizona, and of course Better Place has an ambitious plan for a charging infrastructure people would subscribe to. The Obama Administration is providing $3.4 billion in grants this year to spur development of EVs and bolster the grid.

But Howard wants to bring chargers to the heartland, even though there are, according to the AP, just 96 electric cars in Iowa and only one in Elk Horn.

“He’s definitely being progressive, but you know, somebody’s got to be first,” Pat Davis, program manager for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Vehicle Technologies, told the Associated Press.



Photo: General Motors

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