Yesterday GM announced an initiative at the Washington Auto Show aimed at preparing "early-adopter" cities around the U.S. for plug-in electrics like the 2011 Chevrolet Volt. Specifically, GM hopes to drum up support from city officials and raise public awareness of the benefits of and concessions needed for plug-in electrics.
GM is well aware that plug-in electric vehicles might fall flat if the infrastructures needed to support them aren't in place by the time the Volt goes on sale next year. And so they are trying to impress upon city, local and state governments, utility companies, clean city coalitions, universities, and electric car enthusiasts (among others) that pro-infrastructure policies must be enacted if electric vehicles are to become suitable replacements for gasoline-powered cars.
2011 Chevrolet VoltEnlarge Photo
Cities like San Francisco and Washington, D.C. are GM's first targets in this campaign. Indeed, San Francisco is already taking action to legitimize personal electric vehicles. Says mayor Gavin Newsome: "Here in San Francisco, we are acting now to make sure the charging infrastructure will be available to support these vehicles as soon as they are ready for sale, and we are working with other cities in the region to make the Bay Area a thriving market for electric transportation."
Issues that plug-in hybrids must face are consumer affordability, availability of public and workplace charging, reasonable electricity rates, fleet and government purchasing possibilities, and incentives like HOV lane access. Some of these have already been met by measures like the $7,500 federal tax credit for plug-in hybrids approved last October.
GM hopes that progressive cities like San Francisco will fill the rest of the gaps and encourage a critical mass of consumers to purchase plug-in hybrids. And organizations like the SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) are working on developing industry standards for vehicle charging.
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