Mike Howard, an enterprising local businessman in Elk Horn, Iowa, has put his hometown on the electric car map. Howard financed the installation of four plug-in car charging stations, capable of providing 110-volt or 220-volt charges. Despite the fact that Elk Horn has exactly one electric car—a Chevrolet S-10 pickup that Howard himself converted to run on batteries—Howard sees his investment of about $30,000 as a good move, and plans to install four more in the small farming town of 650 people.
When all eight stations are installed, Elk Horn will have a greater density of charging stations than just about any location in the United States, except for a few spots in California. In fact, he plans to spend another $50,000 next year to expand his efforts in Iowa and into Nebraska. Howard’s larger vision is to install a network of charging stations along the Interstate 80 corridor through Iowa from Denver to Chicago.
The entire state of Iowa has more than 4 million registered vehicles but just 96 electric-powered ones, mostly low-speed neighborhood electric vehicles.
“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 Associated Press.
According to AP, Howard plans to ask electric car drivers to pay about $2 to $3 for a charge. He’s undaunted by the current lack of customers. “It’s going to be slow at first,” he said. “You’re not going to see a large influx of electric vehicles out there everyday.”
But the 57-year-old Howard, who has been interested in alternative energy since he was a kid, is on a mission. And he wants Elk Horn to play a role in the nation’s future in electric cars. “We have a dream about electric vehicles and we’re going to make that a reality,” he said.