With the rapid pace of information — and misinformation — sharing these days, perception often becomes reality.
It’s a struggle we at South Shore Clean Cities work with on a regular basis when it comes to issues of sustainable transportation, particularly when it comes to electric vehicles and electric vehicle charging stations.
South Shore Clean Cities was thrilled to be selected last month by the Indiana Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust Fund Committee — on the recommendation of the Indiana Department of Environmental Management — to manage the outreach, education and marketing for the statewide electric vehicle charging station network supported by the VW grant program and the Indiana Utility Group.
The combined efforts to share information under one brand with one unified message will help not only to encourage widespread adoption of electric vehicles but also to help Hoosiers see their neighbors, local businesses and governments are EV owners and EV charging station operators as well.
Many people still believe EVs are only for the wealthy or that the only EVs on the market are high-end models. The reality is nearly every automaker has an EV in its lineup or plans to add more soon, with many models starting around the $30,000 range.
Some public and private fleet managers or decision makers automatically dismiss the idea of electric options for replacement vehicles, thinking they either don’t exist, won’t perform their intended tasks or are too pricey for their budgets.
More and more electric vehicles are being added to lineups for fleets as well, including in larger class sizes, and grant funding helps reduce cost. With the lack of a need for oil changes and other routine maintenance and the cost of charging being less than that of diesel, the total cost of ownership and longevity of the vehicles are making them more appealing and accessible to fleets of all types and sizes.
Skeptics often question battery range or availability of charging stations. The overwhelming majority of EV owners charge overnight in their garages during off-peak grid hours and range is increasing with each new model year. The range on most new passenger EVs is around 300 miles or more, comparable to a tank of gas.
What about electricity that comes from coal-fired power plants, some ask. Isn’t that causing as much air pollution as gasoline? Multiple studies at the federal level have shown the answer is no. Even with coal-fired power plant electricity, EV charging still produces fewer emissions overall than gasoline-powered tailpipe emissions.
For those without garages living in apartments or condos with parking lot or street parking, South Shore Clean Cities is working to help solve charging barriers along with other Clean Cities coalitions and the U.S. Department of Energy through the Vehicle Charging Innovations for Multi-Use Dwellings program.
South Shore Clean Cities is also a partner in the Michigan to Montana I-94 Clean Fuel Corridor program, which seeks to fill charging station gaps along I-94. Portions of I-94 and I-65 are already designated as alternative fuel corridors thanks to our work there.
Are EVs the solution to all of our sustainable transportation needs? No, but they are an important piece of the complex puzzle that is being assembled to help all of us reduce tailpipe emissions and contribute to a healthier future with investments in cleaner domestic fuels and technologies.
Making sure decisions are being made about EV adoption using credible sources and data is at the heart of the efforts, right here Indiana, and we’re proud to be a part of it.
Remember, it’s never too late to begin your environmental legacy.
This column first appeared in The Times of Northwest Indiana. Carl Lisek is executive director of South Shore Clean Cities and vice president of Legacy Environmental Services. The opinions are the writer’s.