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As electric vehicle sales rise, Chicago still building out infrastructure for charging stations

Chicagoland plans to get more charging stations for electric vehicles
Chicagoland plans to get more charging stations for electric vehicles 02:10

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Navigating the path of buying an electric or hybrid vehicle can be tricky. Most recently, the Chicago Auto Show producers helped answer many curious customer questions at Chicago Drives Electric in Oakbrook Terrace over the weekend.

But for many potential EV buyers, the biggest question remains where to charge your vehicle.

Going electric might benefit the environment, but how feasible is it in the city?

"We're starting to see the movement towards electrification across the city, and those changes," said Gene Kent, director of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers trade school in Chicago.

Kent said the city has only just begun building the infrastructure for EV charging across Chicago.

"We're still at the infancy stages of that. So it's very difficult for somebody to travel around the Chicagoland area and still stay connected to their car," Kent said.

Chargers aren't everywhere, so you'll need to buy your own. Those tend to go for $500. You'll also need to get the proper power to your garage to set up your charger.

"Some people will need to upgrade their panel and even their electrical service in order to do that," said ComEd principal business analyst Ryan Burg.

But not everyone has their own garage, so people who rent or live in a condo "are definitely nervous about the availability of charging," said Kelley Enright, spokeswoman for Stellantis, the parent company of Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep.

"They depend either on public charging, or they have to start figuring out how to get charging to their cars," Burg said.

Despite a 7% jump in electric vehicle sales this year, many drivers don't know how they will make the switch, even if they want to.

"The infrastructure still needs a lot of support to move to a higher saturation rate of electrical vehicles," Kent said.

It's the support that best comes through new policies and legislation.

"They need to tell their aldermen, their legislators, that they want EV. They want that infrastructure," Kent said.

ComEd, the city's energy provider, was also on site at Chicago Drives Electric. In this sector, they've already revved up spending and development.

"We also have a beneficial electrification plan that is going to spend about $230 million over the next few years," Burg said.

ComEd officials said they're driven to make going green much more accessible.

"It's really important to us that we try and figure out how to make sure that EV access is equitable," Burg said.

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