In 2016, the town of Columbus, Ohio beat out almost 80 different metropolises to win the Department of Transportation’s Smart City Challenge. The title is extra than simply bragging rights: there is a $40 million DOT grant—with one other $10 million coming from Paul G. Allen Family Foundation—to assist the town put collectively a holistic strategy to utilizing expertise to make getting round Columbus safer and extra sustainable. I’ve been maintaining a tally of Smart Columbus, because it’s identified, for some time now. But as is the way in which with these sorts of enormous multidisciplinary packages, the primary couple of years aren’t notably newsworthy until you actually love listening to about planning conferences. Now, that is beginning to change.
Among the tasks underway are the Smart Columbus Operating System, an open information platform which is able to change into the spine of the sensible metropolis technique; a multimodal journey planning app, which is the sort of Fifth Element multipass for which Alex Roy typically evangelizes; and numerous packages to supply mobility options to residents needing prenatal care or these with cognitive disabilities. While all of these issues are nonetheless in comparatively early phases of growth, Smart Columbus’ plan to spur the adoption of electrical automobiles has been underway for a bit now.
Since the start of 2017, the town has seen an uptick in folks selecting battery EVs and plug-in hybrid EVs that is outstripped each the nationwide and midwest regional common. Specifically, the rise in new EVs since January 2017 has been 121 % in Columbus, 94 % for the US as an entire, and simply 82 % for the Midwest.
It’s typically mentioned that the best technique to get somebody to modify to an EV is by letting them drive one for 5 minutes, and that is been a key a part of Smart Columbus’ technique. “We’ve put a significant amount of investment and capacity to build out test drives for the community,” mentioned Jordan Davis, director of Smart Columbus for the Columbus Partnership. Davis and her group have assembled a “ride and drive” roadshow with 12 BEVs and PHEVs that go to locations of labor across the group, and Smart Columbus has additionally opened an expertise heart with one other fleet of different powertrain automobiles for folks to check drive.
“The road show has conducted 7,000 test drives to date and will do another 5,000 this year. And the experience center has done over 250 to date. There’s a great correlation between what people test and what they buy,” she informed me. (The hottest BEV has been the Tesla Model X, and the most well-liked PHEV the Mercedes-Benz GLE550e.)
What’s extra, it seems like the world’s automotive dealerships are totally onboard with the hassle. One solely has to learn the feedback to any current evaluation we have accomplished on an EV to listen to loads of griping about how somebody’s native sellers have no real interest in promoting such automobiles, however Smart Columbus has engaged with 20 native sellers to create a certification program. “We approached the dealers as partners, brought them along the learning process, and learned from them about how they think about the future of their product lines. They’re not just worried about the cars they need to sell tomorrow, but they’re thinking about the future,” Davis mentioned.
The program has been constructing out charger capability within the space as properly. Partnerships with American Electric Power, IGS, and Columbus’ municipal energy utility have helped with rebate funding for public, multi-unit residential, and office chargers (each stage 2 and DC Fast).
It could be some time earlier than the town rivals components of California in the case of EV adoption, however each area has to begin someplace. EV penetration is now at round 1.2 % of the whole native car fleet, up from 0.37 % initially of the Smart City Challenge software course of. “We want to get to 1.8 percent by the time we end the grant,” Davis informed me. “We did hit 2.5 percent in November, through the course of this year want to keep a stable and growing market. Once we get to 2020, 2021, we hope we’re well positioned to take our fair share of the market.”
Listing picture by Smart Columbus