Electric Transportation Toolkit
FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENTS TO ACCELERATE ELECTRIC VEHICLE ADOPTION
Electric vehicles save money by reducing operating costs, while improving public health, and addressing climate change by drastically reducing emissions. Today, there are light-, medium-, and heavy-duty electric vehicle (EV) options for fleets and consumers.
The Electric Transportation Toolkit makes it easier for decision-makers to identify cost-effective, sustainable, and equitable solutions and successful strategies to accelerate electric transportation. The Toolkit curates best-practice local government EV policies and actions from around the country with links to real-world examples. If you need a better understanding of the technology and terminology, we recommend you start here first.
The Toolkit is a living document that is updated biannually to keep pace with the rapidly expanding EV market. Latest update: April 3, 2023. If you would like to print this document, please click here.
Transportation electrification plans provide a framework and roadmap for community-wide EV adoption. Effective plans incorporate different elements from each of the categories below–and more–and support long-term community engagement, fleet procurement, finance, and technology decision-making.
Transportation electrification plans articulate priorities, align strategies, and build capacity, all of which can be leveraged to pursue federal and state grants and rebates to support the shift to EVs. State and federal transportation electrification grants are often very competitive and having a strategic plan in place strengthens your proposal.
Local leaders can establish goals as well as adjust procurement policy to electrify their fleets, saving taxpayer dollars, reducing pollution, and providing healthier outcomes for their citizens and the environment. The economic benefits of transitioning to electric fleets is an increasingly compelling reason for many municipal leaders. EVs provide an overall reduction in fuel costs and maintenance requirements so their total cost of ownership is frequently lower than traditional internal combustion vehicles.
Electric buses and medium and heavy-duty trucks have significantly fewer carbon emissions and reduce harmful air pollution in our communities. They provide considerable savings in maintenance and fuel costs, compared to combustion engine buses and trucks. Additionally, the purchase price of electric buses and trucks is falling fast with advancements in battery technology. While electric transit and school buses and medium and heavy-duty trucks have many similarities there are significant enough differences including how they are driven, price points and how they interact with the grid, that we are choosing to separate them and address them individually.
Fueling EVs requires a paradigm shift in how we view transportation, buildings, and energy. It is a departure from the traditional combustion vehicle gas station model. Electricity access is ubiquitous and any electric outlet is a potential fueling station. However, modern long-range light-, medium-, and heavy-duty EVs often require specific EV charging stations with hardware and software to meet changing needs. The perceived lack of charging stations is cited as one of the top barriers to the purchase of electric vehicles.
Each EV use case (such as public vs fleet, light- vs heavy-duty, long-range vs short trips) requires a different charging infrastructure approach. Thus, planning for and implementing EV charging stations requires addressing unique use case needs and removing barriers.
Local governments can install and own EV charging equipment and adopt policies to encourage private investment in fleet, workplace, and public charging infrastructure.
This section identifies funding mechanisms for light-duty vehicles, buses, medium-and heavy-duty vehicles, and charging infrastructure. There are increasing options for local governments to fund both electric vehicles and charging infrastructure. Financing options, incentives (like rebates and tax credits), public/private programs as well as grants and vouchers have all been used to reduce or cover upfront costs. Of note, funding these projects will require coordination across a multitude of departments that have not traditionally been involved in purchasing decisions. For example, in working out the charging infrastructure: the public services department may be involved in engaging with the local utility; the public works department may help decide where to site the equipment; the finance department may handle the purchase of the units, and the information technology department may handle the wifi and software.
Most American drivers are not aware of the cost, public health, and environmental benefits of driving electric. Educational opportunities can be offered to both staff and citizens to increase understanding of electric vehicles, charging, and the cost savings to taxpayers. Examples include having EV information on your website, providing presentations on EVs, and hosting outreach activities such as “ride and drives” at which staff and citizens can ride or drive in electric vehicles.
View manufacturing, sales, utility, and government investment indicators and electric vehicle (EV) momentum for: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and the Southeast region from the "Transportation Electrification in the Southeast" report released in August 2021 and updated in March 2022 by Atlas Public Policy and the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.
Equity-centered policies reduce barriers and increase opportunity making the benefits of electric transportation more accessible and affordable for all community members. Policies and strategies to advance equitable transportation should center on diversity and equity from the onset, be grounded in engagement with diverse communities, and should incorporate community needs and wants. Equitable transportation policy can redress public health burdens, like the 66% higher exposure to transportation-related air pollution among Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities than white communities. “Equitable transportation electrification ensures that all communities, regardless of race, ethnicity, location, and income level, have increasing opportunities to access and benefit from e-mobility solutions.” – EVHybridNoire Public Policy Toolkit.
Local utilities are essential partners - after all, they provide the electricity. Because of their role, engaging with your local utilities should be a first step. Local utilities can be partners in increasing EV adoption rates. They can offer EV-friendly rates where it is cheaper to charge an EV at low-use times of the day and can install charging infrastructure through pilot programs.
Additionally, municipalities can partner with local utilities to create education and outreach events and programs. Cities and counties that have municipal utilities have a unique opportunity to work closely with their electricity provider to develop pilot programs and provide strategic direction.
There are several actions that states can take to support and enable local government electric transportation goals. Local governments can lean into these policies by making electric transportation a priority policy and engage in advocacy.