A group of 16 cities around the world has embarked upon an ambitious program to sell six million plug-in and electric vehicles collectively by 2020.
In order to achieve that objective, they’ve banded together in a collective program that aims to develop adequate infrastructure to support such a large number of plug-in vehicles. The program seeks to leverage their ability to bring together automakers, city officials and planners, infrastructure suppliers, utility companies and academia to develop practical, sustainable support systems for green vehicles, whether public or private.
The 16 cities in question consist of, Barcelona, Berlin, BrabantStad, the Goto Islands (Nagasaki), Hamburg, Helsinki, Kanagawa, Los Angeles, New York, North East England, Portland, Research Triangle in North Carolina, Rotterdam, Shanghai, and Stockholm.
Three of them, Amsterdam, Barcelona and Los Angeles have taken the bull by the horns, acting as lead locations for the program.
In Amsterdam, which has population of 780,559 and currently 246,452 registered vehicles, EV subsidies totaling 9 million euros have been introduced, which aim to bolster the number of EVs on city roads from 750 to 10,000 by 2015. In addition, the city has launched a Car2Go program that works in a similar fashion to Zipcar in the U.S, whereby EVs can be dropped off and collected from public parking spots at any time for a fee. Finally, Amsterdam is in the process of shifting its taxi fleet from primarily diesel propelled passenger cars and vans to EVs. The city plans to have 40 of its 2,500 taxis as EVs by the end of this year.
In Barcelona, Spain’s second largest city after Madrid – with a population of 1,640,494 and with 981,580 vehicles currently registered – plans to electrify abundant scooters and motorcycles are underway. The city has installed a number of Mobecpoint charging stations to promote the use of electric two-wheeled transportation and the plan has even led electric motorcycle manufacturer Volta, to introduce a model known as the “Barcelona.”
The city is also working on a car-sharing program to cut down traffic congestion and has developed LIVE (Logistics for the Implementation of the Electric Vehicle). This is an open information platform that focuses on topics ranging from charging station use to new innovation and opportunities in the EV sector. It also offers EV registration cards needed to operate the city’s charging stations. LIVE also includes a smartphone app that enables users to find the most convenient and affordable charging stations for their vehicles in the city.
In car-centric Los Angeles, where smog is a way of life, initiatives are underway to significantly boost the number of EVs on the city’s roads. With a population of 4,100,000 and 2,500,000 vehicles, LA boasts one of the highest rates of automobile ownership in the world. Nevertheless, plans are in place to boost the number of EVs from around 2,000 today to 80,000 by 2015.
Designed to help make this possible, is a California state purchase rebate of $2,500 for new EVs, in addition to the $7,500 tax credit available from the federal government. Additionally, Los Angeles, will be introducing electric buses to shuttle passengers to and from terminals at LAX airport, while new city construction projects will have to include provisions for EV charging infrastructure.
With brownouts a fairly common occurrence in the greater LA area, the city’s Department of Water and Power is taking steps to ensure that the growing number of EVs won’t overtax the electrical grid. It plans to do this by investing $60 million in smart grid technology as well as upgrading local power grids and providing consumers with a $2,000 discount if they install charging stations at home.
In addition to this, Los Angeles is participating in a number of local, state and even international partnerships, with agencies, universities and even other cities to help study and develop plans for EV fleet rollouts on a more substantial scale.
Although many believe it will be some time before EVs can even be considered mainstream, the initiatives being put in place by these cities and others around the world, should significantly help grow their presence on our roads in the coming years.