Electric vehicles to get a coastal charge

  • Richard Sachen, founder and CEO of Sunspeed Enterprises, plugs in his vehicle in Pt. Reyes Station. Sunspeed is building a network of EV charging stations from Eureka to Malibu. (John Burgess/The Press Democrat)

Richard Sachen enjoys driving his electric Nissan Leaf from his home in Petaluma to the coast. The tech entrepreneur used to worry about having enough juice to make it home.

Not any more. Sachen recently installed an electric vehicle charger at Point Reyes Station to eliminate so-called "range anxiety."

Sunspeed Enterprises, the company Sachen founded in 2012, is developing a network of fast charging stations up and down the coast from Eureka to Malibu. Sachen calls it the "Pacific Coast Sun Trail."

EV advocates say the new network will fill an overlooked niche by adding charging infrastructure in rural areas that attract tourists while other companies have focused on installing charging stations in urban centers and along major highways.

"The idea is that every 20 miles there will be a charging station," Sachen said. "They will be at destination sites where drivers can rest and relax while their car is charging."

The chargers, made by EV infrastructure company Greenlots, include a Level 2 connection that can add about 24 miles of range to a Tesla or Chevy Volt in an hour, and a Level 3 "fast charger" that can fill up a Leaf in the time it takes to eat lunch at Cafe Reyes.

The first charging hub is located at 65 Third St. in Point Reyes Station, behind the old Livery Stable where Wells Fargo stagecoach horses once recharged with hay and oats.

"I thought that was rather poetic," Sachen said.

By March, Sachen hopes to have three more charging stations along Highway 1 in Sonoma County and another three in west Marin County. His goal is to have the whole California coast sewn up within two years.

"This is a good time to get in at the coast, to get in first," he said. "There's a lot of interest in the coast. If you are into driving an EV, you are probably into nature too and want to see the beauty of the California coast."

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