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Homegrown Push for Electric Vehicles

Connecticut hopes to have 25,000 electric vehicles on the road by ten years. Westport already has some plans in mind.

In Hartford, Gov. Jodi Rell announced that the state hopes to have 25,000 plug-in vehicles on the road by 2020. Locally, there are already plans to build up the infrastructure for electric vehicles and raise awareness on the future of driving.

As the state and federal government decides how to pave the way for electric vehicles, town officials are waiting to hear if a request for more than $300,000 in federal money will be approved will be used to outfit the eastbound Westport Metro-North Station with solar panels to provide electricity to plug-in vehicles.

The 25,000 target is one of the many recommendations the Electric Vehicles Infrastructure Council included in its final report this week to the governor on ways to prepare the state for the advent of the new generation of zero-emission electric vehicles (EV).

"Connecticut is literally plugged into the future," Governor Rell said in a press release. "We want to be a national leader in this emerging industry and the work of the Council clearly puts us in the driver's seat. Carmakers have taken notice and that is why Chevrolet has chosen Connecticut to be one of the first markets for its 'Volt.'"

The Volt, which is hitting the market later this year in limited numbers, is a hybrid vehicle that can reach 85 miles per gallon.

Last weekend, John Papa, of Ridgefield brought his own electric car to Westport in order to help educate residents about the feasibility of ditching gas to go electric. His GEM e4, which can drive up to 25 miles per hour, has accumulated 9,000 miles.

"The world is thinking about electric cars," Papa said as he waited for the truck that would deliver the e4 to Westport. "I'm going down there to help them build awareness."

Papa's planned stops in Westport included the downtown area, a Sunrise Rotary Club meeting and some time at the Saugatuck train station.

 The governor said the EV Council's goals ties in to the national goal of 1 million EVs on U.S. roads by 2015. The Obama administration has committed more than $4 billion to support design, manufacture and purchase of EVs. For the third year in a row, Connecticut made the list of Environmental Protection Agency's top 50 Green Power Partners.

In addition to Chevrolet and other manufacturers, Nissan is working closely with council members to promote the launch in Connecticut of the Nissan Leaf. Recently, the governor announced that Northeast Utilities and Enfield-based Control Module Industries will install an EV charging station at the state Capitol complex in Hartford at no charge to taxpayers.

Among the recommendations in the final report are:

  • Incentive programs for consumers, auto dealers and manufacturers and EV research and development (R&D)
  • Tax incentives for individuals and businesses for EV purchases
  • Allow EVs in high cccupancy vehicle lanes
  • Install charging stations at state buildings and attractions, such as state parks, museums, rest stops, train stations, libraries and public parking lots
  • Clean vehicle parking incentives
  • Review and target state lending programs to support existing and start-up EV businesses
  • Aggressively recruit California-based EV companies to make Connecticut their East Coast affiliate
  • Offer grants and loans for alternative vehicle and fueling infrastructure
  • Offer tax exemptions and tax credits for EV components manufacturers
  • Pursue federal grants to support EV infrastructure and research
Judy Starr September 03, 2010 at 01:59 PM
All well and good, but how safe are these vehicles on the road, which must also be shared with larger vehicles including trucks? What are the sources of financing their production?
Anthony Karge September 03, 2010 at 03:28 PM
Here's an interesting article on the safety of electric cars (obviously, there's some spin here) http://www.thegreencarwebsite.co.uk/blog/index.php/2010/08/31/are-emergency-services-ready-for-electric-cars-the-green-piece/
Judy Starr September 03, 2010 at 08:48 PM
Thanks, Anthony. Interesting about difficulties with rescue from entrapment. I suppose where there's a will there will be a way to get around such difficulties, but it sounds like the battery will pose a risk if there's a welder needed for a rescue. Someone shared the following with me, which I will share with you: (1) a video of a crash test by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety of a Mercedes C300 and a Smart for Two: http://www.spike.com/video/crash_test_shows/3151924 (2) an article from CNNMoney.com. It talks about Chrysler's GEM, an LSV (low speed vehicle) electric car and how it fares in collision with the Smart for Two. Interesting discussion: http://www.money.cnn.com/2010/05/20/autos/iihs_ nev_ crash_ tests/index.htm It is to their advantage for the public, as this product is presented to us, to be aware not only of the touted advantages, but also about related safety matters.

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