Will electric cars ever become the common way to drive? What is needed is an infrastructure that allows easy recharging of the vehicle (such as gasoline stations are for the internal combustion engine). There are two key barriers to plug-ins: first, the current battery technology is very expensive, adding thousands of dollars to the cost of a plug-in. Next, many well-established sectors must change to accommodate plug-ins. Consumers must learn the pros and cons of a plug-in lifestyle, and a new way of valuing upfront costs against operational savings. Utilities must learn to manage a large and mobile load. Cities, retailers, and other businesses must incorporate a new infrastructure of charge spots. All these players must build a new system of connectivity in order to line up charging times, billing, and consumer preferences.
Roland Berger Strategy Consultants and Rocky Mountain Institute, a Colorado-based think tank dedicated to the profitable transition from fossil fuels to efficiency and renewables, have released a recent report evaluating the readiness of major cities across America for Plug-in Electric Vehicles (PEVs).
The study determined the cities with the highest current readiness for PEVs to be:
- San Jose
- Los Angeles
- San Francisco
Other cities the report identifies as "leaders" include: Austin, Denver, New York, Orlando, Phoenix, Raleigh, Riverside, San Diego, and Seattle.
One of the most basic requirements for adoption of electric vehicles is having a place to plug in. According to Ford Motor, which released its list of 25 cities leading the way with electric vehicle-readiness on April 13, just having a place to plug in is not enough and various regulatory and cost incentives are necessary.
Here is the Ford full list, in alphabetical order:
- Austin, Texas
- Charlotte, N.C.
- Hartford, Conn.
- Los Angeles
- New York
- Orlando, Fla.
- Portland, Ore.
- Raleigh, N.C.
- Richmond, Va.
- Sacramento, Calif.
- San Diego
- San Francisco Bay Area
- Washington, D.C.
- West coast cities in both studies are common.
Other factors in the Ford study may be local existing car sales such as hybrids and proximity to production or distribution centers. Ford did state the following as some of their weighted factors:
-Utility rate structures that encourage nighttime or off-peak charging to minimize demand on the grid — San Francisco is currently the leader in this regard
- Streamlined permitting and inspection processes to support residential and commercial EV infrastructure installation
-Urban planning approach to optimize public/commercial EV charge locations
- Infrastructure incentives to offset a portion of customer costs for hardware installation
For further information: http://projectgetready.com or http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/04/13/idUS273376530120110413 or http://www.rolandberger.com/news/2010-10-15-rbsc-news-US_Cities_Get_Ready.html