NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — There’s no doubt, the Tennessee electric vehicle scene is booming.
“Tennessee is on its way to be the number one electric vehicle, at least manufacturing, state in the country,” said Positive Energy Charging Systems Director of Operations Justin Huff.
It’s a sentiment echoed by top leaders in our state.
“We are really becoming the heart of the automotive industry here in Tennessee,” Gov. Bill Lee (R-Tennessee) said.
But as it expands and more cars hit the road, one big question looms.
“‘How am I going to charge my car?’” Huff said.
News 2 met Huff through the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conversation (TDEC). A third-party charging company, Positive Energy works with the department to help bridge the gap between Tennessee’s goals and where we are.
Huff’s question about how to charge a car is referring to a feeling called ‘range anxiety.’
“There’s still a long ways to go. EVs right now are really smart for in-city or suburban areas,” he said. “But getting outside of the urban or suburban areas – that’s what I’m trying to do is help meet those needs.”
Huff said the first electric car he ever bought was a Nissan Leaf. It had 40 miles per charge, but it could charge relatively quickly.
The industry is running into the problem of trying to balance distance with charging speed.
“Now I have a car with almost 300 miles of range, so I can do a lot more traveling without having to recharge,” Huff said. “But it does take a lot longer to charge the battery up.”
In Tennessee, there are currently 11 charging stations with multiple ports throughout the entire state.
But as battery technology progresses, the question may become: Do we need more?
“Some of the next stages that we’re going to see is that the vehicles are going to be able to make it 500 miles, 600 miles, maybe 1,000 miles before it needs to be recharged,” Huff said.
As EVs become more popular, their environmental impact is front of mind – even more so if the cars are made here in Tennessee.
“If you’re buying a car from overseas, there’s a lot of parts and pieces that have to be shipped all around,” Huff said. “So, although you may be only using electricity to run the car, you used a lot of fossil fuels to transport and ship those parts and pieces around the world.”
Of course, that toll is offset when those parts are already here.
“They’re expanding because that industry is expanding in our state, which is expanding the job opportunities here in this county, so we’re excited about the future there,” Lee said.
As the state pushes forward with electric vehicles, Huff wanted to be clear that it’s not about forcing people to use EVs, it’s more about incentivizing and encouraging them.
“That’s my parents’ conversation. ‘You’re not going to force me to drive an electric car.’ Well don’t drive an electric car then, that’s fine,” he said. “Usually, I put people in my car and take them for a ride and they go, ‘This thing’s a blast, holy crap. I want an electric car.’”