Turn on the TV, and you will likely view a commercial featuring the plug-in capable Chevy Volt or Nissan Leaf. Reading the paper, you have no doubt encountered news about their much-anticipated launch (GM will publicly launch the Volt later this month).
The question is no longer whether electric vehicles are coming, but "How fast?" and "Where first?"
"Advancements in EV technology have been achieved thanks to big investments by automakers and governments," said Matt Mattila, a Rocky Mountain Institute transportation consultant. "Now, attention is shifting away from technology to what needs to be done at a city level to prepare for the successful adoption of these cars."
Cities have a lot to gain from EV readiness. Despite several automakers launching models in the near term, vehicles will likely be in tight supply, as GM expects to deliver 10,000 the first year and upward of 30,000 by 2012 (As a comparison, GM's popular full-size pickup truck, the Chevy Silverado, sold 465,065 in 2008).
This means early leaders who have tackled issues like infrastructure, incentives and consumer education stand to attract federal funds, build an environmentally conscious reputation, and attract the first wave of EVs to their local showrooms.
Yet a "winners vs. losers" scenario won't help EVs in the long run. Although initial launches will target select cities where, for a number of reasons, EV readiness and appetite is the highest, electric vehicles will hit the entire country in the near future. Bloomberg reports electric vehicles will comprise 9 percent of automobile sales by 2020, and that the percentage will more than double by 2030.
For the EV transition to be truly successful and sustainable, all cities -- not just the leaders -- can seize the opportunity to provide their citizens with a variety of advanced transportation options on the market.
In their recently published report, Roland Berger Strategy Consultants and RMI's Project Get Ready, an initiative which aims to help communities throughout North America prepare for and welcome electric vehicles, looked at America's fifty largest cities to evaluate how they stack up in terms of EV readiness.
How does your city fare?
Is your city a plug-in pioneer? Or does it have a long way to go? Here's how 50 of America's largest metro areas rated when evaluated on a wide range of EV readiness criteria:
Leaders: Cities with strong foundations to welcome electric vehicles are likely participants in the first wave of e-mobility.
Cities counted among the Leaders include: Austin, Denver, Los Angeles, New York, Orlando, Phoenix, Portland, Raleigh, Riverside, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose and Seattle.
Aggressive Followers: Cities with high momentum for EVs and strong potential to join the first wave with additional planning.
These include: Detroit, Houston, and Indianapolis.
Next Page: The rest of the pack ...