Columbus EV Program Exceeds Its Electric Vehicle Sales Target

June 18, 2020

by Peter Maloney
APPA News
Posted June 18, 2020

There were 3,323 electric vehicles sold in the seven-county Columbus, Ohio, metropolitan region from April 2017 to February 2020, breaking the target of 3,200 vehicles sold that was set by the Smart Columbus Electrification Program.

Going into the Smart Columbus program, only 0.4% of vehicles sold in the Columbus region were battery electric vehicles or plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. Columbus set an electric vehicle adoption target of 1.8%, or 3,200 vehicles, by March 2020. During the grant period, which ended March 31, electric vehicle sales reached a high of 2.34% in fourth-quarter 2018 and of 1.6% in fourth-quarter 2019.

The Smart Columbus Electrification Program won a $40 million grant in June 2016 from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Smart City Challenge.

Top officials with the Columbus, Ohio, Division of Power in 2016 detailed how the division is working to implement projects tied to the smart city initiative.

The Department of Transportation says that through the program it has leveraged nearly $350 million in public and private funds for smart city and advanced transportation technologies.

In addition to the DOT grant, public power city Columbus was awarded a $10 million grant from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation to speed the transition to an electrified, low-emissions transportation system.

Smart Columbus was also the beneficiary of aligned investments totaling more than $720 million from private, public and academic institutions in the region to support technology and infrastructure investments to upgrade Columbus’ transportation network and aid in making Columbus a model connected city of the future.

Smart Columbus is a regional smart city initiative co-led by the City of Columbus and Columbus Partnership, which includes partnerships with The Ohio State University, Battelle, and American Electric Power.

Seventy Columbus employers partnered with Smart Columbus to develop education and incentive programs that encouraged residents 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,” Alex Fischer, president and CEO of the Columbus Partnership, said in a statement.

The educational and marketing aspects of the Smart Columbus program included the Smart Columbus Ride & Drive Roadshow, which facilitated 11,956 test drives; the Smart Columbus Experience Center, which conducted an additional 400 electric vehicle test drives; the “EVolve Your Thinking” digital education campaign; and the Smart Columbus Electrified Dealer program, which has trained more than 70 sales associates from 35 dealerships. The program also drove efforts to incorporate electric vehicles into public and private vehicle fleets, which resulted in the deployment of more than 300 electric vehicles.

“Our work with Smart Columbus has taught us many lessons about making EV charging more accessible and we’ll use this experience as we expand to other areas of the state.” Raja Sundararajan, president and chief operating officer of AEP Ohio, said in a statement.

Check out APPA’s Electric Vehicle Tracker for additional details on what public power utilities are doing with respect to EVs.

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