Electric Vehicle charging stations now open in Epcot's parking lot for guest use

Aug 18, 2014 in "EPCOT"

Posted: Monday August 18, 2014 7:30am EDT by WDWMAGIC Staff

Good news for drivers of electric vehicles - Epcot has opened an EV charging station in the guest parking lot.

The four Level 2 charging stations, operated by ChargePoint, are the first to be deployed at Walt Disney World.

Drivers of the Chevy Volt, Nissan Leaf, Tesla and other electric vehicles can find the chargers at the front of the Journey parking lot, with a cost to charge of $.35 per kw/h, with a minimum charge cost of $1.50. Like all ChargePoint stations, they are available on a first come, first served basis, and guests can request directions to the stations from the Cast Members at the Epcot parking booth plaza.

ChargePoint accepts payment via credit card at the charge station, or via a ChargePoint account card, which you can obtain free from ChargePoint.

It is expected that more charge stations will be rolled out across property as part of the Drive Electric Orlando program of which Disney is a partner.

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MissMAug 26, 2014

Not the same travel amount but I did follow a Tesla home from Disney a couple months ago. They went all the way from World Drive to Tampa with me. Of course, even a round trip is within range for a Tesla without a recharge given it's only about 80 miles each way, but still, it was lovely sight to behold. I would LOVE to be able to drive to and from Disney without gas cost! How fantastic would that be! :D

GoofGoofAug 26, 2014

All true. There are a lot of issues to be worked out. There is also still room for improvement with refining the car itself to be more energy efficient and use less power making the batteries last longer. Like I said, 5 years is optimistic, but who knows where the technology will be in 25 years. Look at a mobile phone from 1989.

DisneyCaneAug 26, 2014

Unfortunately, you are being WAY too optimistic here. Battery technology is nothing like computer chips and processors. With computer chips the reason they have gotten more powerful and cheaper is because the transistors are getting smaller. The goal is to move less electrons for each "switch." In a nutshell, it has been continuous improvements to the production process that have allowed this to happen. In the case of a battery, the goal is to store more electrons in a given volume (and weight). The same technology baseline doesn't have the capacity (some pun intended) to get that much better. It takes a completely new technology to get large improvements. There was a big jump (especially related to weight) when lithium ion technology went mainstream. But, if you look at lithium ion from 10 years ago, there really hasn't been a huge improvement in the capacity per unit weight/volume. The other issue with batteries is the charge speed. If you charge the battery too quickly, it heats up. This can reduce the charge capacity permanently or in some cases cause fires. There isn't likely to be a "fill up" speed that is anywhere near as fast as gasoline without a big technology jump.

GoofGoofAug 25, 2014

I don't think you will see the start of construction on new coal plants any time soon. A few legacy monopoly utilities are constructing them now, but they were approved and started several years ago (sorry rate payers...the tab is on you;)). Nuclear is pretty much dead too in the US. Same story as coal. With natural gas costs as low as they are the economics make no sense to build nuclear or coal plants at this time. Many coal plants are scheduled to close in the next 5 to 10 years and some nuclear plants which have licenses up for renewal soon are getting a hard look from regulators. The one down side is the loss of fuel diversity for power generation. Putting all our eggs in the natural gas basket is risky. A disruption to supply could lead to brown outs or even a widespread blackout. We came very close this winter in parts of the Northeast to rolling brown outs on the extreme cold days when power generators couldn't get nat gas for their plants. Since people heat their homes with natural gas too if there is a shortage the first to be cut are industrial customers like power plants. The only thing that saved us this winter were some antiquated oil burning power plants which had to be forced on and had more run time in 6 weeks than the last 10 years combined. It was quite a show to watch as plant owners scrambled to find crude oil or kerosene to burn at their plants. If the pace of fracking continues, the supply of nat gas should be plentiful. It's a good time to be in the nat gas and/or oil pipeline business (this was not the case 5 to 10 years ago). The US has already passed Russia as the largest oil producer in the world (thanks to fracking in Texas and the Dakotas) and in as little as 5 years may have enough capacity to only need to import oil from Canada making North America energy independent. Electric vehicles could add to that independence as demand for gasoline drops. As solar power continues to grow the combination of solar power and natural gas peaking plants is the most efficient and environmentally friendly way to produce power. Until the green power gets ramped up to speed it's dangerous to force coal out too soon. The transition needs to be planned and paced properly so that the lights stay on.

Master YodaAug 25, 2014

A couple things regarding CNG... If we were to do a wholesale conversion from gasoline to CNG, does the infrastructure already exist to replace gas stations or would a retrofit be somewhat easy? If the answer is no, then there is not much sense in making that intermediate switch as all that work into a new infrastructure would be essentially wasted. Now if the answer is yes, can existing cars be converted to run on CNG? If that is possible then I could see us making at least a short term switch. The real problem then is how long will this intermediate switch be? I don't know about you, but I would really feel hesitant to buy a car whose fuel source would become obsolete in the near future and I am sure auto makers are even more hesitant to invest in the technology for the same reason. Regarding emission numbers... I have heard that if we all switched to electric cars today the pollution numbers would be a push as the CO2 produced from the cars would be replaced by the CO2 emissions from an uptick in the need for electrical power. This makes the problem 2 fold. Not only do we need to replace gas engines with electric ones, but we need the change the way we generate power in the first place. IMHO, we should not build one more coal power plant. At this juncture, I would look at the nuclear option. Nuclear is cleaner and safer than coal. The trick will be getting the cost down.

CDavidAug 23, 2014

My primary point is there are already available alternatives to gasoline-powered vehicles which don't have the (current) range limitations of electric cars, and if we're using the natural gas anyway, why not do so directly. Although, if the new Leaf with a (supposed) 135 mile range weren't quite so expensive, I'd seriously consider one myself. Granted, natural gas is ultimately an intermediate step as electric vehicle technologies mature, but it is arguably a step worth taking. Railroad locomotives will (apparently) be using a blend of diesel and natural gas within the next few years, and I know it is also being used in semi-truck tractors. A bit off-topic, but I'd be very curious to see what the (emissions numbers) difference is between continuing to fuel cars with (imported) petroleum while increasing use of natural gas to generate electricity, versus switching many/most cars over to natural gas (or electric) and continuing to generate power with coal (among other sources).

morningstarAug 23, 2014

Natural gas is cheaper and doesn't fund terrorism, but still produces greenhouse gases. (Please no flat-earther debates here. Either agree or agree to disagree.) Obviously doesn't make much difference if the electricity is produced by natural gas, but I'd like in the future for electricity production to go to completely carbon-neutral sources: wind, solar, hydro, geothermal, or nuclear. None of those sources are viable for a personal vehicle to use directly. Though solar cars have been built, you'd have to call in sick on a rainy day, and a wind-powered car would be pretty fun, but even more unreliable.

morningstarAug 23, 2014

They are not suitable for road trips, but well suited for commuting. The obstacle there is that most people will want to use the same car for both purposes. However, it's pretty reasonable for a family that's going to have two cars anyway to have one electric and one fossil fuel car. Also, if gas prices continue to go up, it might start to make sense to own only electric and to rent a car whenever you want to go on a road trip.

TP2000Aug 23, 2014

Bingo! I have a late model Honda Civic NG (Natural Gas) in my garage. It's a totally normal car to drive, except I fill it up at a 24 hour Natural Gas service station in Orange, the town next door to my home town of Villa Park. I have two other cars (a truck and a flashier ride), and I use the Civic NG for buzzing around SoCal, running errands, and... going to Disneyland! It's very rewarding to fill up using fuel that's been tapped and refined and transported by fellow Americans within American borders, without sending my money to OPEC countries and all the political baggage they are saddled with. Natural Gas vehicles are more common in California than most of the rest of the country. But they seem to be a better alternative than coal-powered electric cars that need to be plugged in every 50 miles. Even if there are four (4!) new parking spaces for electric cars at Downtown Disney. :rolleyes:

GoofGoofAug 22, 2014

I may be a little too optimistic here. I did say it's not out of the question for it to take as little as 5 years. Realistically it may be more like 10 to 20 years. In 5 years time Musk will have his giga-factory and that should (in theory) drive down costs. The technology side is improving and it's not just the standard car manufacturers that are involved. I have a lot more faith the Silicon Valley boys can drive real innovation than I would if it was being driven by Ford or GM. The battery and storage technology is also very interesting to companies selling residential solar power systems. If the technology gets to where it needs to be every solar panel installation will come with a battery backup which could allow for 24hr residential solar power. There are billions to be made here. It's a pretty exciting industry to follow. Not unlike computer chips and processors 15 years ago.

DisneyCaneAug 22, 2014

I hope it does but battery technology isn't improving that quickly. Physics and chemistry are getting in the way. The size and weight of the battery must decrease per unit charge.

GoofGoofAug 22, 2014

It's not out of question that in as little as 5 years we could have a battery with almost twice the range as those on the market today and half the price. In 25 years who knows how much the technology will advance.

GoofGoofAug 22, 2014

Right now electric cars are primarily commuting cars. Most families have 2 cars (unless you live in a major urban center with adequate public transportation). If you drive 1 car to and from work (commuter car) but your other car is the primary family car (think mini-van, SUV or large sedan) then it's feasible to convert the commuter car to an electric. In markets where electric vehicles are starting to take hold (places like CA and Texas - if you can believe that) companies are providing chargers at work and most owners have a charger at home as well. Most owners charge overnight at home and never have a need for the quick chargers available on the road. The quick charge stations are more of an emergency backup than a regular part of your routine. Until battery technology gets a whole lot better there isn't much hope of converting all vehicles to electric, but in a 2 car family it has become possible and practical to convert 1. Taking an electric car on a cross country road trip would be a novelty at this point. You could in theory charge overnight provided your hotel allows it, but you wouldn't make it far without needing to stop for the day. There are converters which can allow you to charge from a standard electric outlet, but it takes about 8 hours. I read an article about a guy taking his Leaf from Houston across country, but he had to really plan out stops where he could charge and most were overnight at hotels. It took him quite a while.

Master YodaAug 22, 2014

Going to CNG would really just be an intermediate step. Kind of like going from wood to coal. Better than gas, but still not without its problems. Electric is pretty much the endgame and it is obtainable. Once we have that down the improvements will come in how we generate and store it, but I think a car that runs solely on electricity will be around far longer than the internal combustion engine.