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Six Cities Ready To Embrace Electric Vehicles*


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October 11, 2011 -- With the release of the Nissan Leaf earlier this year, electric vehicles (EVs) are slowly driving their way into the public consciousness. The Obama administration has made the development and deployment of EVs a key priority as a means of both mitigating climate change and enhancing America’s energy security. Powering our vehicles with electricity means relying dramatically less on oil, which in turn means lower greenhouse gas emissions and less dependence on imports from the Middle East. The electricity used to power EVs can be generated by natural gas or, even better, renewable energy sources like solar and wind.

Yet, the path to significant usage of EVs must clear many hurdles. Some are technological or economic, but just as importantly, cities must deploy a network of charging stations before EVs can become a plausible substitute for traditional combustion-engine vehicles. Two very different rankings, one by GE and another by Ford assessed the U.S. cities most prepared to embrace EVs. The two lists employed vastly different methodologies, but six cities showed up on both, which suggests that they will be at the forefront of the coming EV revolution.

Ford’s ranking included a broad set of criteria designed to measure cities’ progress so far, as well as the friendliness of the regulatory environment to the kind of rapid, large-scale infrastructure deployment necessary to prepare for EVs. It ranked 25 top cities with the following criteria:

  • Utility rates that encourage “off-peak” charging
  • Streamlined permitting and inspection processes, to speed up the development of necessary infrastructure
  • Advisory committees that help communities deal with electric vehicle issues
  • Urban planning to optimize locations for chargers
  • Incentives to offset customers’ costs for installing required hardware
  • Other city- or region-wide programs that encourage EV use

By contrast, GE looked at an entirely separate but equally important factor: driving patterns. “Range anxiety,” or the fear of running out of battery while driving an EV, is known to be a major limiting factor in EV usage. So certain driving patterns are more or less conducive to their use. Frequent, predictable, short trips favor EVs. So GE looked at commutes and broader driving patterns to rank the top 10 cities suitable for EVs. Only six of those 10 also appeared on Ford’s ranking. Those six are listed below.

The EV Top 6 U.S. Cities
Dallas, TX
Houston, TX
Detroit, MI
Atlanta, GA
Phoenix, AZ
Sacramento, CA

* This article is from www.theatlanticcities.com. Link opens in a new window and may expire over time.

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