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Electric Car Makers Think Outside The Garage At Silicon Valley Symposium

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A power cable from a vehicle charging station is seen plugged into the side of a Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid August 25, 2010 in San Francisco. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

A power cable from a vehicle charging station is seen plugged into the side of a Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid August 25, 2010 in San Francisco. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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PALO ALTO (KCBS) – Sustainability advocates convened in Silicon Valley this week to share ideas about how to enhance the electric vehicle charging infrastructure as the technology slowly becomes mainstream.

Electric cars represent a still small, but growing percentage of car sales. Just one in 40 cars in California runs on electricity, said Jessica Zenk, transportation director at the Silicon Valley Leadership Group.

“Electric vehicles are everywhere now, especially when we’re talking about Silicon Valley,” she said.

Traveling beyond the Santa Clara Valley or away from major cities can still pose a big challenge, depending on the region and the type of electric car.

A major theme at the two-day conference at SAP Labs was thinking “outside the garage” to re-imagine when and where plug-in drivers get a chance to recharge, including bringing charging stations into the workplace. The charging stations at SAP, for example, are conveniently located right by the entrance.

BMW, Ford Tesla, Nissan, and Honda all sell electric cars. And Zenk stressed that not all of them require periodic connection to the grid.

“We’re also seeing a lot of fuel cell vehicles, which is generating electricity differently, through a hydrogen fuel cell,” she said.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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