The EV Project is an ambitious public-private partnership to help build an EV charging network for the U.S. electric vehicle market, and it just got a big push from the electric transportation leader ECOtality. The company, which heads up The EV Project, has just announced that it is offering its Blink® EV charging stations for free to qualified customers in greater Philadelphia and Atlanta.
Aside from the benefits to individual EV drivers, the offer of free charging stations could become a boon for commercial fleet managers seeking to lower their carbon emissions, especially for fleets in which drivers have take-home privileges.
Fleet management and electric vehicles For many fleets, the transition to electric vehicles involves the relatively simple matter of installing EV charging stations at company-owned garages and parking lots.
For fleets in which employees have the privilege of parking their vehicles at home, the transition is much more complicated. Take-home vehicles can have numerous benefits, such as cutting down on end-of-shift time spent returning vehicles to a garage, but fleet managers who want to transition to electric vehicle technology have to weigh the pluses against the logistics of ensuring that the vehicles can be recharged at the employee's home.
ECOtality's new initiative could help swing the decision in favor of electric vehicles by reducing the cost of purchasing and installing new EV charging stations.
Expanding the EV Project The new initiative applies only to owners of the Nissan LEAF or Chevy Volt, at least for now. For customers in Philadelphia ECOtality will provide a free Blink wall mount charger and a credit of up to $400 against installation costs.
PECO, the energy company serving greater Philadelphia, also notes that a broader incentive program provides additional rebates to residential and commercial EV owners in the region, as well as government agencies and nonprofit institutions.
In Atlanta, Georgia Power notes that customers signing up for the free charging stations can qualify for a special Plug-In Electric Vehicle rate, which is available during prime EV charging hours of 11:00 pm to 7:00 am.
A long look at EV ownership The EV Project shares some characteristics with BMW's "Electronaut" program, only on a much larger scale. It launched in 2009 under an initial Department of Energy award of $99.8 million to ECOtality and at heart it is a research project, like the Electronauts.
The Electronauts are a cadre of 700 drivers recruited by BMW for its new all-electric ActiveE, who are providing both hard data and personal stories about their experiences over a two-year lease period.
Similarly, the aim of The EV Project is to collect data on the first several thousand EVs in daily use in the U.S., including external factors like topography and climate, and to try out different revenue scenarios for commercial and public charging stations. To date, The EV Project has collected more than 17 million miles of EV driving data.
With those findings taken into consideration, the U.S. EV market will be better positioned to deploy a rational, effective EV charging network for millions of vehicles.
Image: Courtesy of ECOtality.
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Tina writes frequently for TriplePundit and other websites, with a focus on military, government and corporate sustainability, clean tech research and emerging energy technologies. She is a former Deputy Director of Public Affairs of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, and author of books and articles on recycling and other conservation themes. She is currently Deputy Director of Public Information for the County of Union, New Jersey. Views expressed here are her own and do not necessarily reflect agency policy.