MONTREAL - Electric cars are coming, and they'll be able to be plugged in at parking lots across Montreal.

Hydro Quebec has convinced several companies to accept charging stations for plug-in electric vehicles, 100 of which will be ready and operational by next year in Montreal and Quebec City.

The so-called "Electric Circuit," the nation's first public charging network for plug-in cars, will have dedicated space at Rona stores, St. Hubert BBQ, Metro grocery stores and several AMT parking lots.

A St. Hubert BBQ in Boucherville started using two electric vehicles to make deliveries a few weeks ago.

"It's true that when you start going, it's a little slower," said Martin Tiernan. "You just have to adjust your driving to maximize your battery."

Christine Goupil of Fleuriste Les Fleurs de l'Artiste also signed up for the pilot project, and she is thrilled with her electric Mitsubishi.

"It's so silent and no smell at all and you have the impression that you ride on a cloud," said Goupil.

The utility says drivers will be able to pull up to a spot and plug in their car for $2.

Plug-in drivers will also be able to call Hydro Quebec or CAA-Quebec 24/7 to find a charging station.

Hydro Quebec president Thierry Vandal expects most drivers will want to go electric.

"It costs a normal consumer about a couple thousand dollars a year to buy gas at a service station these days," said Vandal. "With electricity... it's going to cost you $200 to do the same kilometres a year."

Hydro Quebec will issue tenders for developers this summer, and hopes the first 240V stations will be fully operational in early 2012, while quick-charging, 400V stations will be installed next year.

The project will spread from the province's two large cities across the province,

People who use the plug-in stations will not have to actually be shopping at the store where they have parked.

Only two cars currently on the market, the Mitsubishi i-MiEV and Nissan Leaf, can use a 400V power station, but those vehicles can charge much quicker than other plug-ins.

According to Hydro Quebec, the standard 240V charger provides 25 km of travel for an hour's charge. The quick-charging vehicles can get enough juice in 10 minutes to travel 50 km, and will be at 80 percent of battery capacity in half an hour.