The sleek silver-and-black tower tucked behind Willow Valley Communities’ Cultural Center looks sort of like a slimmed-down and simplified gas pump. Tucked in a corner parking spot, it’s unobtrusive despite blue lights glowing steadily along the top edge.

Linda Brackbill stretches a long cord from the base to her Ford C-Max, pops open a port on the driver’s side and plugs in her car.

The charging station, one of two recently installed by Willow Valley Communities for its residents, isn’t yet a common sight in Lancaster County.

But trends indicate that may soon be changing.

Plugging in

“We were aware that electric vehicles were becoming more popular ... and we knew that a number of residents and team members were starting to get those vehicles here on our campus,” says Jim Tracy, senior director of property management and services for Willow Valley Communities. Tracy says the company started talking about installing charging stations at the beginning of this year.

“It (was) good from a technology, innovation, green-initiative standpoint,” Tracy says.

The charging station Brackbill is using, on the Lakes Campus, is one of two recently installed by Willow Valley. The other is at the nearby Manor Campus.

The stations are made by Maryland-based SemaConnect, Tracy says, and meet Willow Valley’s criteria.

“This particular product isn’t a lot of bells and whistles ... but it wasn’t just basic. We wanted something that was easy to use for our residents ... and that would give them the ability to establish an account for their vehicle’s charging on a phone app.”

Installation, using a local electrical contractor, was easy, Tracy says.

Willow Valley’s charging stations are available only to those who have requested and been given the special access code, Brackbill says. “We made ours a private station,” Tracy adds, “so you can become a member through Willow Valley if you’re a resident or family member, or visitors.” (See sidebar for tips on locating public charging stations).

“Right now, there are about a dozen” electric cars in the Willow Valley community, according to Maureen Leader, marketing and public relations coordinator for Willow Valley Communities. “But we see that growing — not just at Willow Valley, but everywhere.”

“If the technology continues to get better ... it’s definitely a growing trend,” Tracy says.

Part of the driving force, Leader says, is the group of people who are aging into 55-and-over communities such as Willow Valley.

“Certainly the baby boomers are, yes, aware,” Leader says.

Brackbill, who with her husband, Rick, has owned a Ford C-Max for about a year, agrees.

“I think the more people who are exposed to seeing the charging stations, they’ll be more willing to try” electric vehicles, Brackbill says.

Goodbye gas

Chances are, it will become a lot easier to spot electric vehicle charging stations before long.

Just last week, Volvo announced that after 2019 it will no longer make new models with conventional gas-powered internal combustion engines. Instead, the auto manufacturer will focus solely on hybrid and electric vehicles.

That same week, it was announced that, as of 2040, France no longer will allow sales of gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles. That’s part of its effort to meet Paris Climate Accord goals.

That country’s Renault car manufacturer already makes Europe’s best selling electric car, the Zoe.

And, according to a July 5 article by Agence France-Presse, Germany wants to put a million electric cars on the road by 2020; Norway aims to end the sale of gasoline- and diesel-fueled cars by 2025; and India wants all of its new cars to be electric-powered by 2030.

Just five years after that, Bloomberg New Energy Finance estimates, electric vehicles will own about a quarter of the worldwide market.