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Electric cars can recharge at new Cedar Rapids station

Tesla pays to install charging stalls at Five Seasons ramp

The Five Seasons parking ramp adjacent to the Doubletree Hotel in downtown Cedar Rapids now offers two electric vehicle charging stations. (B.A. Morelli/The Gazette)
The Five Seasons parking ramp adjacent to the Doubletree Hotel in downtown Cedar Rapids now offers two electric vehicle charging stations. (B.A. Morelli/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Teslas and other electric vehicles have a new place to charge up in downtown Cedar Rapids.

Doubletree Hotel by Hilton, partnering with Park Cedar Rapids, has added two charging stations in the Five Seasons parking ramp next to the hotel for guests and other downtown motorists. The stalls are located on the fourth level reserved section.

“When a Tesla traveler is mapping coordinates and looking at a map of where charging stations are, we want to be on their route,” said Matt Felling, general manager of the Doubletree.

Tesla and Hilton have a partnership for installing charging stations, Felling said. He reached out to the electric vehicle maker and the company agreed the location was a good fit, he said.

The installation, including the two chargers and an electrician running the wiring, was paid for by Tesla, Felling said. One stall is devoted to Teslas and the second is a General Electric charger adaptable for many other models, such as the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt. A Tesla could also work on the second charger with the appropriate adapter, Felling said.

Related: March 27, 2016 — Electric cars gaining ground in Iowa

Demand still is mild. The stalls have only been used three times since being installed in mid-May, Felling said. But many conference coordinators have questions about the availability of charging stations when soliciting venues, he said.

“It’s not huge,” Felling said of demand. “This is a future thing.”

Motorists planning to recharge at the stations should contact the hotel at 319-731-4444 or Park Cedar Rapids at 319-365-7275 in advance to ensure availability and to make arrangements.

The spaces are available on a first-come, first-served basis throughout the week — day and night — and users can charge for up to 24 hours.

Park Cedar Rapids plans to absorb the $7 or $8 in electric costs per full charge, said Jon Rouse, general manager of Park Cedar Rapids. He said electric vehicles can typically get an 80 percent charge within eight hours.

“Hopefully it will drive traffic to the downtown and the Doubletree,” Rouse said.

Electric vehicles, which some refer to as EVs, have a range of around 100 miles per charge at lower price point models, while higher-end vehicles, including some Teslas, are touted as having a 200- to 300-mile range, according to a review by Popular Mechanics.

Cedar Rapids has nine public charging stations, including at Unity Point-St. Luke’s Hospital, Kirkwood Community College and NewBo City Market, according to PlugShare.com, which maps electric vehicle charging stations around the nation. These are the first electric charging stations in city parking ramps and lots, which are all managed by Park Cedar Rapids.

The number of public stations increases to 23 when also considering Iowa City, Hiawatha, Coralville and Mount Vernon.

Iowa had 250 electric vehicles registered in 2015, up from 40 in 2012, according to Iowa Department of Transportation data. Nationally, about 120,000 electric vehicles are sold per year, and sales in 2016 are on pace to top annual numbers for the past five years, according to data from InsideEVs.com.

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