Electric vehicles (“EVs”) represent the next age of vehicular travel, but a few factors still stand in the way of full-scale adoption. With the exception of Tesla drivers, EV users have to use a spotty and often unreliable network of charging systems. Coupled with the high purchase price of most EVs, the lack of a network of reliable charging stations has caused many buyers to stick to internal combustion-engine vehicles. However, with a little help from the government, this might soon become a thing of the past.
Minneapolis and St. Paul, for instance, will soon be home to 70 new electric car charging stations thanks to a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. The $6.7 million grant was awarded to the new Twin Cities Electric Vehicle Mobility Network, and it is part of a new program intended to increase electric car use. Over the next two years, the Twin Cities Electric Vehicle Mobility Network will use the funds to build charging hubs, develop a one-way electric car-sharing service, and partner with local organizations to educate the public about electric cars.
The new program has been praised by St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter and Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey. “This collaboration will support a sustainable and resilient future for our children and grandchildren,” says Carter. According to Frey, the programs “are perfectly aligned with our overall goals, including achieving 100 percent renewable electricity by 2030. St. Paul and Minneapolis have already taken steps to increase EV adoption, notes Jukka Kukkonen, an instructor of Electronic Vehicle Market Technologies at the University of St. Thomas.
“This would take it to the next level,” he says. Kukkonen, who is also coordinator of the Minnesota Electric Vehicle Owners Group, notes that car-sharing is an easy way for the public to test drive electric cars and it makes the system sustainable. HOURCAR, a local non-profit has been tapped to operate the one-way electric car sharing service.
On top of building a new electric vehicle charging network, the funding from the Department of Energy will enable HOURCAR as well as Xcel Energy to bring charging stations and two-way car-sharing to 25 areas around the metro with Xcel Energy spending $4 million on electrical infrastructure. “We have a long term plan to bring clean energy to transportation, with a vision to power 1.5 million electric vehicles by 2030 in the communities we serve across eight states,” says Xcel Energy-Minnesota president Chris Clark.
“Partnerships like this help ensure that an electric vehicle future will benefit all customers.” Analysts say this statement resonates strongly with what EV makers like Lordstown Motors Corp. believe and wish for.
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