Earlier this year, President Biden announced a new target making 50% of all new vehicles sold in 2030 zero-emission vehicles, including battery, plug-in hybrid, and fuel cell electric vehicles. This target will help achieve the Biden administration’s goal of reducing economy-wide net greenhouse gas pollution by 50-52% by 2030, to reach net zero by 2050.
There’s no denying that electric vehicles (EVs) have already arrived now that almost every major auto manufacturer has an electric model on the market. To underscore the importance of EVs in the economy, public health, and environment, National Drive Electric Week (NDEW) – which was created a decade ago to drive awareness about EVs – is being held this year from September 25 to October 3. Grassroots events are being hosted all over the country, typically consisting of ride-and-drives in which actual EV owners showcase their cars to the community and answer questions about driving electric.
Many technologies that came out of research and development projects funded by the Department of Energy’s Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO) are used in today’s EVs, like improvements in cost and better components of batteries and electric drive systems. Additionally, with VTO’s support, communities across the country have been piloting electric projects in rideshares, shuttles, and school buses, among others.
In Seattle, King County Metro Rideshare Operations manages the largest publicly owned and operated commuter van program in the nation. In 2017, the program provided shared rides of 3.6 million passenger trips, typically for getting them to/from large bus or train stations. While this program reduces congestion and helps the environment, King County Metro went a step further and introduced 20 Nissan LEAFs into its 1,300-vehicle revenue fleet in 2011. Because of the vehicles’ high customer satisfaction, positive return on investment, and increasing demand, King County Metro continues to purchase Nissan LEAFs and plans to expand the program as EV technology improves. To launch the program and help spread the word, the Rideshare Operations team partnered with Western Washington Clean Cities and major employers in the region.
Every school day, more than 25 million U.S. students catch the big yellow bus. In 2016, that familiar trip changed for some students in Massachusetts who are riding new electric school buses. A $2 million pilot project, funded through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, allowed three school districts to purchase electric school buses and charging stations to test the technology in cold weather environments. Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources, which houses the Massachusetts Clean Cities Coalition administered the project, and the three buses combined, traveled approximately 14,000 miles and provided transportation for 279 days. During the pilot, the life cycle greenhouse gas emissions were about half of what emissions from diesel buses would have been. The emissions benefits will increase as the Massachusetts grid mix incorporates larger sources of renewable energy.
When the pandemic limited travel and social gatherings, visiting National Parks quickly became a top priority for Americans. At Zion National Park, Utah Clean Cities is piloting an electric shuttle system through the east entrance to help reduce congestion, emissions, noise, and energy consumption. EVZion is being designed to be scalable even in other higher traffic National and State Parks throughout the country. Drivers will be able to take the vehicles through a narrow tunnel, steep slopes, and hairpin turns even in extreme weather. This project was kicked off in October 2019 and will be completed in December 2022.
Interested in establishing an electric vehicle program in your community? Reach out to your local Clean Cities Coalition to get started today.