Green

San Francisco will juice your electric car for free

The city of San Francisco, Calif., will install electric vehicle charging stations in publicly-owned garages and at San Francisco International Airport by the end of the year that drivers can use for free until 2013.

The plan involves dropping around 90 charging stations across the city in the hopes of encouraging more residents to purchase electric cars and make them easier to use. Charging stations are already scattered across the city — drivers can find out where they are through Google Maps. The average cost to charge an electric car at a charging station is usually around $0.12 per kilowatt-hour — and most batteries carry a charge between 20 and 40 kilowatt-hours, meaning drivers will save around a whopping $3.

The charging stations are more beneficial for people who live outside the city and should actually encourage more electric car owners to make a commute into San Francisco. The stations will feature 110-volt and fast-charging 240-volt options — which can charge an electric car like the Nissan Leaf to an 80-percent charge in around 3 hours. So drivers can simply drop off their cars while they head off to work or visit the city and return to have a near-full or full charge to make it back out of the city.

Most electric cars are typically limited in their range. The Nissan Leaf, one of the cheapest electric cars at $33,000, can travel around 100 miles before needing a charge. Tesla Motors’ super-powered batteries last much longer, but the cars are significantly more expensive — the Roadster, for example, can travel around 200 miles but costs $109,000. That company’s next car, a sedan, will be less expensive and can travel up to 300 miles, but it will still be significantly more expensive than the Nissan Leaf.

Here are the garages in San Francisco that will feature free charging stations:

Civic Center garage

Ellis O’Farrell garage

Fifth & Mission garage

General Hospital garage

Golden Gateway garage

Japan Center garage

Lombard garage

Mission Bartlett garage

Moscone Center garage

North Beach garage

Performing Arts garage

Pierce Lombard garage

Polk Bush garage

Portsmouth Square garage

San Francisco International Airport garages

St. Mary’s Square garage

1600 Mission Street garage

Stockton Sutter garage

Union Square garage

Vallejo Street garage