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Madison’s Smart Motors in June installed two charging stations available for free, 24 hours a day, to drivers of all-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles.

It’s a small but passionate segment of the driving population, and Smart Motors — a Toyota dealer at 5901 Odana Road that is reportedly the Midwest’s largest hybrid dealer — believed it was only fitting that it supplement the Madison area’s limited charging network for green vehicles.

“The popularity (of electric vehicles) is growing and we wanted to be in place for that and help contribute to the success of these cars,” said John Dolan, Smart Motors’ hybrid specialist.

Anyone who buys a Toyota Prius from the dealership can use the charging stations, but they were also to be open to drivers of non-Toyota vehicles.

“And that’s the way it has turned out,” Dolan said. “We see Chevy Volts and Nissan Leafs parked there sometimes.”

Overall, use of the stations is moderate but steady, “a couple (of vehicles) a day,” Dolan said, using the stations to extend their range as needed in addition to Madison Gas and Electric’s free stations and to charging up at home overnight.

“We’re close to the bike trail here and we see people will pull in and plug in and leave on their bikes,” Dolan said. “It’s more often during the work day, but I’ve driven by after work hours and I’ve seen them used then, too.”

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