EV sales rise in Columbus through dedicated city programme

29th May 2020 Sarah Wray

New figures show that 3,323 electric vehicles (EVs) were sold in Columbus, Ohio over the last three years, exceeding the target of 3,200. Consumer likelihood to purchase an EV also grew by more than 20 percent.

The Electrification Program was developed after Smart Columbus, a public-private smart city initiative led by the City of Columbus and regional business coalition Columbus Partnership, was awarded a US$10 million grant as part of the innovation grants it received as the winner of the US Department of Transportation’s first-ever Smart City Challenge in 2016.

At that time, just 0.4 percent of vehicles sold in the Columbus region were battery electric vehicles or plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. This has now reached over 1.8 percent.

Transitioning 3,323 vehicles to electric is estimated to eliminate around 1,850 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

“We are proud to deliver on the bold goal of this groundbreaking programme, which has served to make our community more sustainable, our businesses more resilient, and our infrastructure more future-ready,” said Andrew J. Ginther, Mayor of the City of Columbus. “As we look to our future, continued efforts to electrify mobility and decarbonise electricity will be critical to addressing the challenges we face, as they directly support resident health and wellness, and help to drive economic development and shared prosperity.”

Jordan Davis, Director of Smart Columbus, told Cities Today that the wider goal is a 10 percent reduction in commutes by single-occupancy vehicles and a 500 percent increase in EV adoption. These “work in tandem and invite our residents to drive change in a way that suits their lifestyle and geography,” she commented.

“Some residents who live and work outside our transit footprint may choose to drive electric. Others may choose shared mobility options more frequently, which serves to grow options for everyone. All of these shifts help our region move more sustainably, reduce congestion and expand mobility options for all residents,” she added.

The ‘Columbus Way’

Smart Columbus pinpoints the Smart Columbus Acceleration Partner programme as key to driving EV adoption. This has involved partnering with 70 large private sector employers to develop education and incentive programmes to encourage residents to drive electric and drive less.

“This success could not have been achieved without the vision and engagement of leaders from across Columbus’ public and private sectors,” said Alex Fischer, President and CEO of the Columbus Partnership. “Of all the learnings Smart Columbus will share from this success, the most important will be ‘The Columbus Way’ — our community’s unique model of public/private sector collaboration that enables us to do big things that benefit the prosperity of our residents and our region.”

Another success factor highlighted was utility company AEP Ohio’s $9.5 million incentive programme to help local governments, workplaces, apartment complexes and others install at least 300 Level-2 charging stations and 75 DC fast charging stations. The programme requires that all charging stations be equipped with technology to capture usage data for four years and that 10 percent of charging stations are located in low-income areas. Launched in August 2018, the programme is already fully subscribed, with approximately 85 percent of approved projects located within the Smart Columbus area.

Other key initiatives included a Smart Columbus Ride & Drive Roadshow and Smart Columbus Experience Center, which facilitated test drives; the EVolve Your Thinking digital education campaign; and the Smart Columbus Electrified Dealer programme, which has trained 70 sales associates from 35 dealerships on how to sell EVs.

Smart Columbus has also launched the AccelerateYourCity.com website, which summarises detailed case studies from the Smart Columbus digital Playbook to share best practices and lessons learned with other cities and organisations.

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