The Marietta Transfer Center and the Busbee Park and Ride now feature four chargers each. Active for about two weeks, the stations have been used six times, said Darryl Howell, who works in transit operations for CCT and managed the project.
Those locations were chosen in hopes of increasing ridership from electric car commuters. A car can be fully charged in two to six hours.
Sales of electric cars have more than doubled nationwide in the first six months of 2013 compared to the same time last year, according to the county.
Interest in the Nissan Leaf, for instance, has been fanned this year by rising fuel costs, said Tori Collay, an Internet sales representative at Auto Nation Nissan, 925 Cobb Parkway near the intersection of South Cobb Drive.
“Since this year, we’ve probably sold about 60 to 70,” Collay said. “It just seems like out of the blue they’re a really hot item.”
Those sales are much greater than the five to 10 electric vehicles he said were sold by the dealership all of last year.
“Honestly, we’re getting more inquiries on the Leaf sometimes than the regular gasoline (vehicles),” Collay said.
Funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, Cobb took part in the federal department’s initiative to increase charging stations nationwide, called The EV Project. About 14,000 commercial and residential charging stations in 18 metropolitan areas across six states are expected to be installed as part of the project.
But even with the modest uptick in interest, the percentage of Cobb County motorists tooling around in electric cars is still infinitesimal, and it remains to be seen how often the new charging stations will be used.
Cobb County and CCT did not spend any money on the stations.
Local power providers Marietta Power and Water along with Cobb EMC, helped deliver power to the stations and the cost of charging is offset by ECOtality Inc., the company that is overseeing The EV Project. ECOtality Inc. fronted the $8,000 bill for the installation.
CCT does not have any plans to install more charging stations, but Howell said he would be open to partnering with other organizations if interest increases.
Brionte McCorkle, a transportation organizer for the Georgia Sierra Club, sees electric vehicles as a catalyst to move toward more sustainable energy sources.
“I think our transportation system needs to move us beyond oil,” McCorkle said.
Several charging stations have been installed around metro Atlanta, she said, and will continue to pop up as more consumers look for alternatives to paying higher prices at the pump.
“I think people like choices, and transportation choices are going be what’s moving us away from oil,” McCorkle said.