Much of the buzz about electric vehicles (EVs) has been generated in coastal communities and large metro areas. However, the Bloomington-Normal, IL region is making plenty of news for our efforts to become a model mid-sized community for EV readiness. The Bloomington-Normal EV Task Force was formed in 2010 in order to prepare the community for the arrival of EVs. The task force consists of leaders from the public, private and educational sectors and is focusing on public education, infrastructure development and other actions that will incent the rapid deployment of these vehicles.
The first major victory for the group was the announcement of an agreement with Mitsubishi Motors to become a pilot community for the North American release of their fully electric “i”. As part of this partnership, Mitsubishi has committed 1,000 EVs to the Bloomington-Normal market from 2011-2014. This partnership will ensure that Bloomington-Normal will become an early leader in electric vehicle deployment. The community is already installing charging stations to support the deployment EVs. To date, the Town of Normal has installed 5 public charging stations and by 2011 over 30 charging stations will be located throughout the community.
Most importantly, the community has launched an aggressive public education campaign. Much effort went into the creation ofwww.evtown.org<http://www.evtown.org/>, which serves as a local informational portal for all things EV. The site has been widely recognized as an outstanding source of answers for EV related questions. The Task Force is also utilizing two European Mitsubishi EVs to provide the public a hands-on EV experience. These vehicles are making public appearances and are being loaned to businesses for test drives. To date, several thousand have been able to personally inspect these EVs, while hundreds have actually had the rare opportunity to drive and experience a fully electric car. These vehicles have effectively broken through many of the myths and stereotypes that exist around EVs. This public education effort will carry well into 2012.
EVs promise to revolutionize the automotive industry. They can help break dependence on foreign oil and promote cleaner local air quality, all while saving consumers and businesses hundreds of dollars a year. Communities need to planning for their implementation into the transportation network. In Bloomington-Normal we hope to a model for other mid-sized communities in the coming years. To learn more about our effort, please visit www.evtown.org.
This post was written by Geoff Fruin Assistant City Manager, Normal Illinois