Making plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs, also known as electric cars) as affordable and convenient as conventional vehicles, requires understanding both their technical and market barriers.  Municipalities and organizations are working to overcome some of these market barriers by revising their permitting processes, training first responders, planning on where to place charging infrastructure to maximize usage, educating the public and coordinating with utilities. The Vehicle Technologies Office is partnering with city governments, local organizations, and other federal agencies to increase their preparedness for plug-in electric vehicles.

To plan for the largest deployment and evaluation project of electric drive vehicles and charging infrastructure ever, the VTO-supported EV Project wrote a number of white papers on plug-in electric vehicle community readiness.  The lessons learned reports cover best practices in training, signage, accessibility, planning, and many other topics.  Micro-climate plans and long-range infrastructure plans provide detailed analyses of market conditions and strategies for several of the major EV Project locations: greater Seattle, Arizona, northwest Oregon, San Diego, and Tennessee.  The lessons learned reports and plans are available on the EV Project’s documents page.

VTO and the Federal Energy Management Program have also collaborated with the Department of Defense on projects evaluating military bases’ readiness for electric vehicles.  Idaho National Laboratory supported several studies to identify potential Department of Defense transportation systems that are candidates for introduction or expansion of electric drive vehicles. Through the Clean Cities-National Parks Initiative , INL also analyzed several National Parks Service and National Forest Service fleets for PEV readiness as well. 

Clean Cities, VTO’s alternative fuels and advanced vehicles deployment program, is focused on this challenge on a national scale.  Through 16 PEV readiness projects in 24 states, communities across the country now have the groundwork in place to establish codes, permitting, siting and design standards; target charging infrastructure based on local market analyses; and inform the public about PEVs. Based on these local plans, DOE has published a best practices summary guide to help other municipalities benefit from the awardees’ experiences. 

In addition, Clean Cities has launched a PEV Readiness Scorecard that asks a series of multiple-choice questions about a city’s permitting, charging inspection processes, incentives, financing, public outreach, planning, and utility involvement.  Based on these responses, the tool scores the municipality’s efforts and offers recommendations for improvement.