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Drive Electric Week Highlights Need for a Green Marketplace

This Saturday kicks off National Drive Electric Week, a self-described “nationwide celebration to heighten awareness of today's widespread availability of plug-in vehicles.” With over 200 events from Portland, Maine to Portland, Oregon – and everywhere in between – this week is a great opportunity for automakers to display a variety of exciting electric cars, and for customers to take a test drive and learn more about them.

National Drive Electric Week is also a reminder of the work that needs to be done to create a sustainable, healthy electric vehicle market. All too often, policymakers get distracted and bogged down with issues that miss our shared goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality. Their attention focuses on a sales mandate, rather than what is needed to build a market.

The focus can’t be on getting a specific number of electric vehicles on the road without thinking about the bigger picture of what it takes to support those vehicles. How many charging or hydrogen stations are needed? Are consumers in the market for a new car actually considering an electric vehicle? Are the right policies in place to support electric vehicles?

No doubt, finding common ground to answer those questions will take resources and effort. While most state legislatures have adjourned for the year, next year we hope to see more states fund electric vehicle rebate programs, create high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane access programs, create a network of public electric and hydrogen stations, and make sure new construction is equipped with charging infrastructure. Incentives like these are proven to move the market.

Our concern remains that states are softening their commitment to the policies that matter. For example, California policymakers failed to act on legislation that would have extended the state’s HOV sticker programs, and Massachusetts failed to include any relevant provisions in its major energy bill.

Automakers continue to introduce new electric vehicles into the market – offering multiple fuel train options at a variety of price points to attract consumer demand. But that’s only part of the equation. Automakers and states need to work together to reach our common goal of getting more green vehicles on the road and creating a viable market for electric vehicles.

This a ride we need to take together.