EV Players Seek Unity As Driver Interest Sags

Big companies from the transportation and utility sectors, all with a stake in the future of electric vehicles (EVs) in the U.S., have joined forces to try to build a demonstration project that will provide a model for EV deployment on a national scale. The new group, called the Electrification Leadership Council (ELC), is focused on infrastructure, which is clearly a big challenge – but a new report showing consumer enthusiasm for EVs sliding for the second year in a row suggests that whatever the group does, EVs might remain a tough sell in the U.S. for a while.

The ELC boasts members such as FedEx Express, Hertz, Navistar, A123 Systems, CODA, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Ecotality and GE Capital, in addition to unnamed “representatives from national, state and local agencies.” Its aim, the group said, was to design a demo project that “will focus on a large-scale deployment of EVs within densely populated local markets where all of the components of an EV Ecosystem can be brought together to better understand the interoperability between EVs and the electric grid across a variety of vehicle classes and applications.”

Electrification Leadership Council

image via Nissan

Integrating EVs into the grid is hardly a new concern. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory is working to address the issue, grid operators and standards organizations have been weighing in, and significant commercial efforts have popped up. The ELC said that what distinguished it was the breadth of the organization. “Our Council recognizes that no one entity can create a comprehensive solution for the broad scale deployment of EVs,” said Mark Aubry, vice president of Navistar’s eStar Electric Vehicle Brand, in a statement. “That’s why we have come together to create a public and private model that will help us understand what will be required to operate thousands of EVs within a community.”

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.