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For electric cars to take off, they'll need place to charge

Published: Friday, August 11, 2017 @ 7:02 AM
Updated: Friday, August 11, 2017 @ 7:00 AM


            In this photo provided by Nils Henningstad, Henningstad poses next to his Tesla Model X while charging the electric car at a public charging station, Thursday, July 13, 2017, in Lillestrom, just outside Oslo, Norway. Electric cars are seeing growing support around the world. France and the United Kingdom want to ban sales of gas and diesel cars by 2040. But there’s a problem: There aren’t enough places to plug those cars in. (Lene Marie Brynildsen/Courtesy of Nils Henningstad via AP)
In this photo provided by Nils Henningstad, Henningstad poses next to his Tesla Model X while charging the electric car at a public charging station, Thursday, July 13, 2017, in Lillestrom, just outside Oslo, Norway. Electric cars are seeing growing support around the world. France and the United Kingdom want to ban sales of gas and diesel cars by 2040. But there’s a problem: There aren’t enough places to plug those cars in. (Lene Marie Brynildsen/Courtesy of Nils Henningstad via AP)

Around the world, support is growing for electric cars. Automakers are delivering more electric models with longer range and lower prices, such as the Chevrolet Bolt and the Tesla Model 3. China has set aggressive targets for electric vehicle sales to curb pollution; some European countries aim to be all-electric by 2040 or sooner.

Those lofty ambitions face numerous challenges, including one practical consideration for consumers: If they buy electric cars, where will they charge them?

The distribution of public charging stations is wildly uneven around the globe. Places with lots of support from governments or utilities, like China, the Netherlands and California, have thousands of public charging outlets. Buyers of Tesla's luxury models have access to a company-funded Supercharger network. But in many places, public charging remains scarce. That's a problem for people who need to drive further than the 200 miles or so that most electric cars can travel. It's also a barrier for the millions of people who don't have a garage to plug in their cars overnight.

"Do we have what we need? The answer at the moment is, 'No,'" says Graham Evans, an analyst with IHS Markit.

Take Norway, which has publicly funded charging and generous incentives for electric car buyers. Architect Nils Henningstad drives past 20 to 30 charging stations each day on his 22-mile (35-kilometer) commute to Oslo. He works for the city and can charge his Nissan Leaf at work; his fiancee charges her Tesla SUV at home or at one of the world's largest Tesla Supercharger stations, 20 miles away.

It's a very different landscape in New Berlin, Wisconsin, where Jeff Solie relies on the charging system he rigged up in his garage to charge two Tesla sedans and a Volt. Solie and his wife don't have chargers at their offices, and the nearest Tesla Superchargers are 45 miles (72 kilometers) away.

"If I can't charge at home, there's no way for me to have electric cars as my primary source of transportation," says Solie, who works for the media company E.W. Scripps.

The uneven distribution of chargers worries many potential electric vehicle owners. It's one reason electric vehicles make up less than 1 percent of cars on the road.

"Humans worst-case their purchases of automobiles. You have to prove to the consumer that they can drive across the country, even though they probably won't," says Pasquale Romano, the CEO of ChargePoint, one of the largest charging station providers in North America and Europe.

Romano says there's no exact ratio of the number of chargers needed per car. But he says workplaces should have one charger for every 2.5 electric cars and retail stores need one for every 20 electric cars. Highways need one every 50 to 75 miles, he says. That suggests a lot of gaps still need to be filled.

Automakers and governments are pushing to fill them. The number of publicly available, global charging spots grew 72 percent to more than 322,000 last year, the International Energy Agency said. Navigant Research expects that to grow to more than 2.2 million by 2026; more than one-third of those will be in China.

Tesla Inc. — which figured out years ago that people wouldn't buy its cars without roadside charging — is doubling its global network of Supercharger stations to 10,000 this year. BMW, Daimler, Volkswagen and Ford are building 400 fast-charging stations in Europe. Volkswagen is building hundreds of stations across the U.S. as part of its settlement for selling polluting diesel engines. Even oil-rich Dubai, which just got its first Tesla showroom, has more than 50 locations to charge electric cars.

But there are pitfalls. There are different types of charging stations, and no one knows the exact mix drivers will eventually need. A grocery store might spend $5,000 for an AC charge point, which provides a car with 5 to 15 miles of range in 30 minutes. But once most cars get 200 or 300 miles per charge, slow chargers are less necessary. Electric cars with longer range need fast-charging DC chargers along highways, but DC chargers cost $35,000 or more.

That uncertainty makes it difficult to make money setting up chargers, says Lisa Jerram, an associate director with Navigant Research. For at least the next three to five years, she says, deep-pocketed automakers, governments and utilities will be primarily responsible for building charging infrastructure.

There's also the question of who will meet the needs of apartment dwellers. San Francisco, Shanghai and Vancouver, Canada, are now requiring new homes and apartment buildings to be wired for EV charging.

But without government support, plans for charging stations can falter. In Michigan, a utility's $15 million plan to install 800 public charging stations was scrapped in April after state officials and ChargePoint objected.

Solie, the electric car owner in Wisconsin, likes Europe's approach: Governments should set bold targets for electric car sales and let the private sector meet the need.

"If the U.S. were to send up a flare that policy was going to change... investments would become very attractive," he says.

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AP Writers David McHugh in Frankfurt, Joe McDonald in Beijing and Aya Batrawy in Dubai contributed.

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This story has been corrected to say that companies should have one charger for every 2.5 cars.

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AP interactive showing public electric car charging stations: https://interactives.ap.org/us-charging-stations/

Comedy genius Jerry Lewis has died at 91

Published: Sunday, August 20, 2017 @ 2:07 PM

Jerry Lewis Dead at 91

Legendary comedian, brash entertainer,  zany actor and dedicated humanitarian Jerry Lewis has died in Las Vegas at the age of 91.

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He died at his home at 9:15 a.m. , according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal and confirmed by his agent, Variety reported.

Lewis was born Joseph Levitch in 1926 in Newark, New Jersey to show business parents and made his professional debut at the age of 5.

Lewis made a name for himself in the 1940s and 1950s with his slapstick humor and as part of the comedic duo Martin and Lewis with handsome straight man and crooner Dean Martin. The pair performed together for 10 years before going on to successful solo careers.

Lewis went on to star in the popular movies “The Nutty Professor” and “The Bellboy” in the 1960s, among many other works.

Over his long career he worked in radio, film, and on stage. He was a screen writer and film producer and director.

One of Lewis’ most critically acclaimed dramatic roles was in Martin Scorsese’s “The King of Comedy” in 1982. He played a late-night television host who is kidnapped by two obsessive fans, portrayed by actors Robert De Niro and Sandra Bernhard.

The comedian may have been best known in some circles for his humanitarian efforts off the big screen with his decades-long work with the Muscular Dystrophy Association and his annual MDA Labor Day telethon.

It’s estimated that Lewis’ annual telethons made more than $2 billion to help fight the neuromuscular disease between 1955 and 2011.

In 1977 he was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for his long years of work on behalf of MDA.

Dean Martin, left, and Jerry Lewis worked together as a successful comedy team on the radio and in movies for 10 years in the 1940s and 1950s before heading on to successful solo careers.(John Springer Collection/Corbis via Getty Images)

4-year-old accidentally shoots, kills himself with gun, father charged

Published: Sunday, August 20, 2017 @ 12:26 PM

An ambulance transports a patient to a local hospital. A Memphis boy accidentally shot himself Saturday with his father’s handgun and was pronounced dead at an area hospital, police said. His father is charged with reckless homicide.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
An ambulance transports a patient to a local hospital. A Memphis boy accidentally shot himself Saturday with his father’s handgun and was pronounced dead at an area hospital, police said. His father is charged with reckless homicide.(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

A four-year-old boy is dead after accidentally shooting and killing himself Saturday at a residence in Memphis, Tenn. The child’s father is facing a number of charges, including reckless homicide.

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Police said the incident happened around 6:30 p.m. on the city’s southeast side.

When police arrived, they found the child on a walkway, according to news outlets. He was transported to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The father, who has been identified as Gari Settles, 39, is also facing drug possession and felony weapon possession charges, police said.

Madonna celebrates turning 59, posting first family pic with all six kids

Published: Sunday, August 20, 2017 @ 1:23 PM

Pop star Madonna performed at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards at the Staples Center on February 8, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.
Michael Tran/FilmMagic
Pop star Madonna performed at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards at the Staples Center on February 8, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.(Michael Tran/FilmMagic)

Photographed for the very first time!

Pop star Madonna shared a debut family portrait Friday that featured her and all six of her children.

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The Material Girl posted the photo on Instagram following her 59th birthday party at a two-day, gypsy-themed celebration in Italy.

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From top left Rocco, 17,  David, 11, and Mercy James, 11, to the right of Madonna.

From bottom left, Lourdes, 20, kneeling along side 4-year-old twins Estere and Stella.

Madge captioned the picture “Birthday.”

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The singer invited long-time friends from all over the world to join her for the celebration.

>> Related: Madonna’s brother speaking out about ‘horrific sister,’ strained relationship

Madonna adopted Estere and Stella in February from Malawi, the same country where she adopted David and Mercy. In July, she opened the African nation’s first-ever pediatric surgery and intensive care center. She shares son, Rocco, with Guy Ritchie and daughter, Lourdes, with Carlos Leon.

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>> Related: Madonna through the years

Police: Mom tried to breast-feed after being pulled over on suspicion of DWI

Published: Saturday, August 19, 2017 @ 11:09 AM

Mother Tried to Breast-Feed After Pulled Over On Suspicion of DWI

A woman pulled over on suspicion of driving while intoxicated attempted to breast-feed her child while an officer spoke to her, police said.

Natasha Abrams, 27, was pulled over Thursday night in Albuquerque after police observed her driving erratically, KOB reported. As an officer tried to speak to Abrams, he witnessed Abrams attempting to feed her baby, according to the police report. The officer noted Abrams had watery, bloodshot eyes and the odor of alcohol was present.

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Abrams told police that she had been looking at her phone when the dog jumped on her, causing her to swerve. She said she had a glass of wine earlier in the day. Abrams failed sobriety tests and blew at or above the legal limit during a breath test, police said.

Abrams was arrested and charged with child endangerment in addition to DWI. The baby was placed in the temporary custody of the grandparents, police said.