WA Opens Nation's First Scenic Byway for Electric Car Owners

This summer, electric car owners will have the chance to explore the Evergreen State's "electric highway." Stretching from Everett to Spokane, U.S. Highway 2 is the first scenic byway in the country lined with charging stations for electric vehicles.

At the beginning of June, Plug-In North Central Washington hosted "Charge Up Washington," an event to kick off the highway opening.

Jack Anderson, the group's chairman, says people can explore towns along the road as they charge their cars - such as in Davenport, where the charger is located at the Lincoln County Museum.

"They're probably going to dwell for between one hour and two hours," he says. "So, there's plenty of time for them to decide to get out of their car and walk around town, and buy lunch in the local restaurant, do a little shopping at the different little stores that are on Main Street."

The electric highway has charging stations in cities like Coulee City, Leavenworth and Wenatchee. The stations are spaced 45 to 50 miles apart so that vehicles can reach the next station on relatively short charges of 30 to 40 minutes.

Electric vehicles are gaining prominence in Washington state. More than 23,000 zero-emission electric vehicles have been sold here since 2011, according to Global Automakers, and the state ranks third for most electric vehicles in the country.

Anderson says sales are up because the cars are fun to drive.

"They are extremely exhilarating vehicles to drive, and I think that's why they're really catching on," he adds. "We're definitely past the tipping point. Electric cars are here."

One of the keys for electric cars will be developing the infrastructure needed to power them. Anderson says Washington state already has fast-charge stations on Interstate 5 and parts of Interstate 90.


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