by Max Frankel
Sixteen cities around the world have set a cumulative target to sell almost six million electric and plug in hybrid electric vehicles by 2020. If they reach this goal, EVs would account for about 6% of total vehicle sales and about 20 million cars on the road.
A new report called the EV City Casebook highlights how these leading cities are putting the right pieces into place to encourage the adoption of EVs:
“Cities are also leading by example. Many have already added electric vehicles to municipal fleets and incorporated hybrid buses into public transportation. They are placing charging spots at public buildings and, in some cases, offering discounted electricity rates for EV users from municipal-owned utilities. Just as important, cities are using their convening power to assemble multi-stakeholder groups that include city planners, automakers, utilities, infrastructure suppliers, academic and research institutions, and city and national officials. These groups work together to create a roadmap for EV readiness that considers all stakeholder perspectives and seeks to identify and address technical, economic and regulatory barriers to EV adoption and integration.”
The sixteen cities involved in the collaborative project are Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, BrabantStad, the Goto Islands in Nagasaki, Hamburg, Helsinki, Kanagawa, Los Angeles, New York, North East England, Portland, Research Triangle in North Carolina, Rotterdam, Shanghai, and Stockholm.
Three cities, Amsterdam, Barcelona, and Los Angeles have taken the lead and are instituting innovative programs to reach their ambitious EV targets. Here’s a look at what they’re up to:
Amsterdam is a 219 square kilometer city with a population of a just over 780,000. There are almost a quarter million registered vehicles and the average commuter travels 8 kilometers everyday. Amsterdam currently has about 750 Evs in use and aims to have 10,000 on the roads 2015. To accomplish this goal, the city has number of initiatives in the works.
First, Amsterdam has reserved almost €9 million for subsidies. They pay companies up €5,000 for each electric car, €10,000 per electric bus, and €40,000 per electric truck that they integrate into their fleets. A pilot program run in 2009 yielded encouraging results, with over 200 EVs purchased.
Next, the City has a Car2Go program. Started in 2011, electric vehicles can be dropped off an picked up at any time from public parking spots for a nominal fee. This program closely resembles the Bikeshare and Zipcar programs we see in the U.S. Additionally, stating in 2013, an online database will provide live and up-to-the-minute information about the location and status of the city’s nearly 1,000 EV charging stations.
Finally, Amsterdam is slowly transitioning its taxi fleet to EVs. By the end of 2012, 40 of the cities 2,500 diesel taxis will be electrically powered, up from 10 the previous year.
Amsterdam also aims to be fossil fuel free by 2040, powering its electric cars, trucks, boats, and buildings with energy generated by wind, solar, and biomass.
Barcelona is the second largest city in Spain with a population of of more than 1.6 million people. It is a dense metropolis where people rely heavily on motorbikes and scooters to get around. The city has almost a million registered vehicles, but plans to expand its electric fleet from the 400 it has today to about 3,000 by 2014. Barcelona also aims to have almost 4,500 charging stations in two years.
In order to accomplish these goals, Barcelona has installed a series of “Mobecpoint” charging stations around the city to encourage the use of electric two-wheelers. The city is second only to Rome in its use of motorbikes and the Mobecpoint stations charge them for free. Barcelona hopes to encourage electric scooters enough so that they make up half of the two wheeled vehicle fleet. Volta Motorbikes, a popular manufacturer, has introduced an electric two wheeler named the ‘Barcelona’ due to its “design, environmental respect and quality.”
The city’s LIVE program (Logistics for the Implementation of the Electric Vehicle) is an open platform that provides information to users about everything from charging stations to opportunities for new innovation and investment. It also issues EV registration cards needed for using the municipal charging stations. LIVE is regarded as “the first citizens’ office in Europe to provide information regarding electric mobility.”
Through LIVE, Barcelona released an app called Chargelocator, which allows mobile users to find the nearest and cheapest available charging station.
Like Amsterdam, Barcelona is working on an EV car sharing program. This one is being worked on in collaboration with MIT and may resemble the University’s ideas for the City Car.
Los Angeles has more than 2.5 million registered vehicles for its 4.1 million residents. Commuters travel an average of 23 miles a day and nearly 80% of them do it via passenger vehicle. Currently, Los Angeles has about 2,000 EVs in use, but aims to get that number closer to 80,000 by 2015.
To help reach that goal, the State of California has added a $2,500 purchase rebate in addition to the $7,500 federal tax credit on electric vehicles. California also allows drivers traveling alone to use the High Occupancy Vehicle lanes on highways if they are driving Zero-emissions cars.
In late 2011, the city of Los Angeles started using long-range all-electric eBuses to shuttle passengers to and from the terminals at LAX airport. The buses are significantly cleaner and cheaper than conventional buses; in fact, some estimate they can be up to $500,000 cheaper than normal buses over their life time.
The city of LA also started requiring all new construction projects to contain EV readiness infrastructure.
The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has taken a number of steps to further the development and deployment of EVs. It has invested $60 million in smart grid technology for the city, upgraded the local power grid to cope with EV charging stations, and provided a $2,000 discount to people who install EV charging stations in their homes.
Finally, the city is involved in a number of collaborative projects with local universities and state agencies to study and prepare for the rollout of a future EV fleet. LA has entered into a partnership with Shanghai, China to “cooperate and share data from their respective EV demonstration programs.”
It will still be many years before EVs become truly “mainstream.” But forward-thinking cities are preparing for their roll out today, setting the stage for a new phase in transportation.
Max Frankel is a senior at Vassar College and an intern with the energy team at the Center for American Progress.