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Market News

 January 16, 2012
US Transport Industry Plotting to Put More EVs on the Road

 Electric cars are pretty great, for a number of reasons. They're also expensive, and there isn't a lot of infrastructure to support them (yet), but apparently a number of US transport industry stakeholders feel that the advantages are enough to kickstart a national electric vehicle demonstration project.

The project is led by the Electrification Leadership Council, which includes companies such as FedEx, Hertz, Navistar, Azure Dynamics, A123 Systems, PG&E, ECOtality, Automatiks, and GE Capital. The aim of the project is to test how well electric vehicles can integrate with the current electrical grid by focusing on a large number of EVs in city centers. The project's secondary aim is to generate and share information on communication and energy storage, as well as second-life battery applications.

United We Stand (or Something)

Several of the companies within the coalition have been acting on their own to support and promote electric vehicles; FedEx has been adding EVs to its fleet for several months, for example. However, each of the participants feels that cooperation and collaboration will be necessary to truly popularize the electric vehicle.

Russell Musgrove, Managing Director for Global Vehicles with FedEx, explained to GreenBiz:

"Collaboration is key to widespread adoption of electric vehicles; no one company can do it alone. We're very committed to sharing the lessons we've learned in our EV fleet deployments to create an EV ecosystem template that is replicable anywhere."

Mark Aubry, vice president of Navistar's eStar Electric Vehicle Brand, expressed similar feelings:

"We've brought together companies who have the interest and necessary resources to work together. ...what is missing is an integrated infrastructure and compelling business model to bring the EV market to scale. 2012 is a make it or break it year for the electric vehicles ."

The project is also fostering ties with local and regional communities -- again, the emphasis is on infrastructure, but there will also be focus on public awareness -- but the first stage of the demonstration project is to simply study EV deployments for company fleets and what kind of commercial applications they do (or do not) fit.

Sites for the initial phase of the project will be announced later this year.