Sonoma County's “electric trail,” a fledgling network of charging stations for electric vehicles, continues to expand.
It's part of a plan to draw more people in electric cars to the county and also make it easier for locals to recharge theirs when they drive from town to town.
“Our goal is to get charging stations throughout the whole county and start to market the county as an EV (electric vehicle) destination,” said Dave Head, the county official who oversees the program to install more public charging stations.
“We want to get people to come in electric vehicles from Sacramento, or the Bay Area, or fly in and enjoy our county, but do it in an electrical vehicle,” he said.
Head described the Bay Area as a “hotbed” of electric vehicle sales and predicts their popularity will increase as a result of government mandates to increase auto mileage and reduce green house gases.
“It isn't like tomorrow when you wake up everyone will have an electric vehicle,” said Alan Soule, head of the North Bay Chapter of the Electric Auto Association. But he said the more charging stations that are free, the more it will encourage people to buy electric cars.
Electric vehicles represent a small fraction of the 14.5 million new vehicles sold in 2012.
Still, sales of plug-in electric and hybrid cars have tripled, from a little over 17,000 cars in 2011 to more than 50,000 in 2012, according to TheStreet.com.
For 2013, the prediction is that 125,000 such vehicles will be sold.
But Head said there are state projections that in the next five to 10 years, as many as 1.5 million plug-in vehicles could be sold in California.
In Sonoma County's network of charging stations, some are free while others typically cost $1 or $1.25 per hour.
This week, the Healdsburg City Council approved the installation of two public charging stations that will be available at the City Hall parking lot.