chargers detroit.automotiveIT

A route planner shows as pink triangles the battery charging points available between Detroit and Ann Arbor, Michigan

The US Energy Department is building an online database of alternative fueling stations.

The move by the Advanced Fuels and Alternative Vehicles Data Center (AFDC) aims to help drivers of new vehicles find locations where they can charge batteries or get alternative fuels.

The Web site canbe accessed online at http://www.afdc.energy.gov/afdc/applications.html

The site offers a range of services, including an alternative fueling station locator, an interactive map with alternative fuel and vehicle data, a biofuels atlas, fuel calculators and comparisons of vehicles' fuel economy.

The US administration hopes online services such as the alternative fuels map will boost the sale of electric vehicles. President Barack Obama, in his State of the Union address in January, said he wanted to have 1 million EVs on American roads by 2015.

That goal leaves little time for an industry that only very recently has begun selling EVs. Mitsubishi's i-MiEV and Nissan's Leaf are among the first commercially available battery-powered electric vehicles. More models from other carmakers will follow in 2012.

The jury is out whether potential buyers will be discouraged by the roughly 150km autonomous electrical range that most EVs will have. Relatively long recharging times are seen as another potential problem.

But EV enthusiasts point out that most daily journeys are relatively short, that electrical outlets for recharging are relatively easy to install and that the appeal of driving more sustainable vehicles will help propel sales of EVs sharply higher in coming years.