Nightly News   |  July 04, 2012

Oregon unveils ‘Electric Highway’

A series of pit stops that allow electric vehicle drivers to charge up for free could change the way America drives down the road. NBC’s Miguel Almaguer reports.

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>>> well, more than 42 million americans are hitting the road this july 4th holiday. you might be one of those. according to the aaa, that's how many of us are getting out there. in oregon , a state known for being green , drivers are doing things a little bit differently. they are plugging in, instead of filling up, using federal stimulus money the state has opened what is being called the electric highway. nbc's miguel almaguer gave it a test-drive.

>> reporter: on a 200 mile stretch of interstate 5 in oregon --

>> we're going to head down --

>> reporter: drivers like justin are leading the charge on the state's electric highway.

>> right now the charger is communicating with the car.

>> reporter: he plugs in for free. his family road trip powered by oregon 's all new fast charging stations.

>> these fast charging stations are what made that trip to portland for me possible.

>> reporter: spread 25 miles apart, some say these charging stations are the wave of the future. this one giving a nod to the past, its home, a historic stagecoach stop.

>> this really is a game changer.

>> reporter: art james with oregon 's department of transportation says the electric highway, the longest in the country, won't always be free but will always be cheaper and greener than filling up at a gas station .

>> reporter: we have funding for another 35 fast chargers around the state so people will be able to drive all along the oregon coast .

>> reporter: officials say this is just the beginning. both california and washington are working to expand their sections of the electric highway. by the end of next year drivers may be able to go from canada all the way to mexico. but with only 1200 electric cars on the road in oregon , not everyone is buying in. the sticker price for ecars can come as a shock to some. despite the name, fast chargers aren't fast. thirty minutes to power up. for drivers like bruce sergeant, it's worth the wait. he hasn't paid for gas in over a year.

>> we were spending from $260 to $280 a month on gas. now maybe $15 a month.

>> reporter: the power of going green driving some in oregon to hit the road like never before. miguel almaguer, nbc news,