Getting Cities Ready for Electric Cars

The Rocky Mountain Institute recently announced a new initiative called Project Get Ready (PGR), to help cities prepare for the wave of electric vehicles that is coming soon. According to a survey by Capitol One Auto Finance, 78% of sampled drivers believe that electric vehicles will have a strong and permanent place among automobiles in the future. And 42% of those surveyed believe that in ten years, 25-50% of all vehicles on the road will be powered by alternative means. But without a sufficient number of “fueling” stations in place and equipped to handle all these vehicles, the entire scenario could collapse under its own weight.

Putting that infrastructure in place now will help to preempt the chicken vs. egg phenomenon that some fear could hinder efforts to reach President Obama’s goal of getting one million EV’s  on the road by 2015.

That target might strike some as moving quickly, although not nearly as quickly as Denmark, where a massive roll-out of EVs and a charging infrastructure to support them is planned for 2011. Automaker Renault/Nissan has signed up to produce vehicles, while Better Place, a California company will be putting together the charging stations.
Back home, automakers are pressing the administration to increase the $2.4 billion subsidy that has been earmarked to help smooth the roll-out.

To encourage collaboration, Project Get Ready is convening interactions with utilities, city officials, and technical partners including Underwriters Lab and Advanced Energy, Automakers GM, Ford and Nissan, as well as several universities. The program is sponsored by the Lemelson Foundation and SEE New Media.

Meanwhile, Rocky Mountain Institute continues to reiterate the advantages of vehicle light-weighting which their founder, Amory Lovins elaborated in his book Winning the Oil Endgame. “A vehicle designed to be lighter requires less energy to move, smaller batteries to power, and, ultimately, less money to manufacture,” says RMI’s Tripp Hyde, one of the co-leaders of PGR. “These savings are passed straight to the consumer by bringing down the MSRP, making the vehicle a more attractive option”

A recent study by Lotus Engineering shows fuel savings on the order or 25% can be achieved by light-weighting vehicles. RMI has developed a Total Cost of Ownership calculator that will allow consumers to perform what-if analyzes, which in some cases will show that some vehicles that cost more initially will indeed save money in the long run.

The PGR website asks what barriers you need help overcoming and provides resources to address them, as well as a menu of 15 recommended actions for government entities, energy providers, financiers and consumers.

With a change of this magnitude in the offing, any effort to begin planning now makes a lot more sense than what we’re used to seeing. That might just be something worth taking note of.

RP Siegel

RP Siegel, author and inventor, shines a powerful light on numerous environmental and technological topics. His work has appeared in Triple Pundit, GreenBiz, Justmeans, CSRWire, Sustainable Brands, PolicyInnovations, Social Earth, 3BL Media, ThomasNet, Huffington Post, Strategy+Business, Mechanical Engineering, and among others . He is the co-author, with Roger Saillant, of Vapor Trails, an adventure novel that shows climate change from a human perspective. RP is a professional engineer - a prolific inventor with 52 patents and President of Rain Mountain LLC a an independent product development group. RP recently returned from Abu Dhabi where he traveled as the winner of the 2015 Sustainability Week blogging competition.Contact: