Ford Lists Top 25 EV Cities, Highlights Pacific Coast Corridor for Future EV Road Trips

5/26/11Follow @bvbigelow

With the average price of gasoline reaching almost $4 a gallon nationwide, it’s safe to say a lot of people are curious about the all-electric vehicles (EV) that many automakers have been showing off lately.

Still, it’s hard to justify the $100,000-plus sticker price for a Tesla Roadster or the $33,000 price of a Nissan Leaf if the only EV charging station for hundreds of miles is in your own garage.

So Dearborn, MI-based Ford Motor, which plans to roll out its Focus EV later this year, has been studying which U.S. cities have gotten the farthest down the road, in terms of developing the infrastructure needed to support EVs. The company has listed what it calls the 25 “most electric vehicle-ready cities in the U.S.,” based on Ford’s own research and available public information.

While no metropolis is really EV ready today, the study notes the Interstate 5 corridor that runs from Seattle through Portland, San Francisco, and Los Angeles to San Diego “is probably the most advanced in terms of planning for EVs,” according to Mike Tinskey, Ford’s manager of global vehicle electrification and infrastructure. That’s not a green light for EV owners to begin planning road trips this Memorial Day weekend, but such trips might be possible in another year or two.

The corridor stands out largely because of the “EV Project,” a modern-day federal public works project made possible by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The U.S. Department of Energy is providing almost $115 million to install more than 14,000 commercial and residential EV charging stations in 18 major cities—including eight along the I-5 corridor. With matching funds from utilities, automakers, and other companies, total funding for the EV Project is about $230 million, which is intended to build the charging stations and other infrastructure needed to support at least 8,300 EVs.

San Francisco-based Ecotality, which is overseeing the EV Project, said last week it had installed 1,000 of its Blink Level 2 residential charging stations so far, passing a significant milestone in the deployment of plug-in vehicle chargers. A spokeswoman says most of the charging stations installed so far have been in residential units, but the company plans to accelerate the installation of publicly available charging stations in coming weeks.

It’s also worth noting that Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced earlier this week that the Obama Administration plans to buy 101 Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrids and 15 all-electric vehicles, the government’s first EV purchase, and to install … Next Page »

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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