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Is Your Town “EV-Ready”?

New list shows battery car-friendly communities.

by on Jan.29, 2010

A new study ranks the U.S. cities most ready to support the new generation of electric vehicles.

The battery cars are coming, or so say most automotive experts.  According to one recent report, as many as 40 battery-based products, including plug-in hybrids and pure battery-electric vehicles, or BEVs, will be on the market by 2014.

But if you’re a fan of the eco-friendly technology is your community ready to support your new electric vehicle with things like public charging stations?

The Norwegian-based BEV maker, Think, aims to answer that question with a first-of-its-kind “EV Ready Cities Index.” It considers a range of factors, including tax credits and other incentives, charging stations, and current sales levels of more conventional hybrid-electric vehicles.

Perhaps not surprisingly, California has four cities ranked in the index’s Top-15, Los Angeles and San Francisco.  Chicago and New York tied for third place.  And Washington, D.C., which has been lending growing government support to battery power, landed in the 13th spot.

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“We expect that the roll-out of EVs to the U.S. market will be quite focused in the early stages,” said Think CEO Richard Canny.  “Since EVs are a unique solution for congested urban environments, we are taking a city-by-city approach rather than a national or state-by-state approach.  Some cities are more likely to be early adopters of EV technology, and the EV-Ready Cities Index will be a helpful tool to guide and prioritize the development of those markets.”

That’s echoed by preliminary plans for a number of upcoming battery vehicle programs.  General Motors, for example, has said that it will begin the roll-out of its upcoming 2011 Chevrolet Volt in California and Michigan, and will then begin a broader national launch.  Nissan is expected to limit the initial markets for its 2011 BEV, the Leaf, as is Toyota, which will target specific regional fleet markets when it begins limited production of the 2011 Prius Plug-in Hybrid later this year.

As for Think, the maker will also take a cautious, regional approach to rolling out its little City electric vehicle, now that it is returning to the U.S. after a several-year hiatus.  It has reopened its European manufacturing operations and just recently announced plans to set up an assembly line in Indiana.

THINK EV-Ready Cities Index scorecard

City Purchase/Usage Incentives Market Fit Overall Score
Los Angeles 5.75 3.75 9.50
San Francisco 5.75 3.25 9.00
Chicago (tie) 5.75 2.15 7.90
New York (tie) 5.75 2.15 7.90
San Diego 5.75 2.00 7.75
Portland 5.55 1.95 7.50
Sacramento 5.75 1.50 7.25
Newark 4.85 2.15 7.00
Seattle 3.30 3.25 6.55
Atlanta 4.85 1.20 6.05
Denver 4.65 0.80 5.45
Boston 2.40 1.90 4.30
Washington DC 0.80 3.05 3.85
Philadelphia 2.40 1.70 4.10
Phoenix 1.70 1.90 3.60

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