North Carolina, Plugged In and Speeding Forward
By Brian Byfield, AICP
What two things do the following corporations have in common: DesignLine, EATON, Lowes, General Electric and NASCAR? A significant North Carolina presence is the first answer, and they are also pioneers in electric vehicle technology. These corporations are leaders in moving plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) technology from concept to reality by providing long-term, North Carolina-based jobs and economic development in a new sector.
DesignLine is headquartered in Charlotte and its North American and New Zealand manufacturing facilities serve a worldwide customer base. DesignLine manufactures and services cleaner, more fuel efficient transit vehicles. Founded in 1985, DesignLine initially manufactured standard diesel vehicles. In 2007 DesignLine USA introduced its first hybrid demonstration vehicles to the US transit market.
EATON Corporation is a diversified power management company providing energy-efficient solutions that allows customers to effectively manage electrical power. From its Arden, NC production facility, EATON makes plug in electric vehicle charging stations for export across the globe. Eaton’s two facilities in Arden employ approximately 1,000 people.
NASCAR now has an electric vehicle pace car used on several occasions has been an electric vehicle. Not only is this NC institution working on electric vehicles, but it is also highlighting the vital link between sustainability and business in its green initiative.
Lowes and General Electric have partnered to make the GE WattStation that is now easy to buy for owners of PEVs in America. For the first time customers can purchase the GE WattStation from a retailer marking a milestone for GE and Lowes as they help accelerate the mass adoption of EVs. These General Electric PEV charging stations are manufactured in Mebane, NC.
An effort to coordinate PEV efforts is now occurring. The NC PEV vehicle roadmap is the latest project. In the fall of 2011, the NC PEV Readiness Initiative: Plugging-in from Mountains to Sea (M2S) was launched with a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The grant enabled the creation of five PEV readiness plans including; a Statewide Roadmap for North Carolina and Four Community Readiness Plans in the Asheville, Charlotte, the Piedmont Triad and the Triangle regions. The NC PEV Roadmap is intended to serve as a guide for stakeholders to implement applicable sections of the plan. The goals include
1: Preparing NC for PEV adoption through active stakeholder engagement
2: Enabling NC to become a leader in electric transportation
3: Fostering the acceleration of PEV adoption
4: Aligning the benefits of PEVs with other initiatives in NC
Current PEV infrastructure plans cover 33% of all counties and 60% of NC’s population. Over 160 municipalities in 29 counties have adopted their own PEV plans. There are 350 public and more than 170 private charging stations in the state. Take a look and see how close stations are to your current seat or your home.
There are 63 entities in North Carolina that are involved in the manufacturing or distribution of PEVs; North Carolina is ranked tenth in the country for employing the highest number of auto related workers in the clean efficient technology sector. Two NCSCTF guidelines are in congruence with the PEV infrastructure program; providing alternate transportation options for our citizens or visitors AND enhancing the economic competitiveness of our state. The economy of North Carolina is likely to enjoy the benefits associated with increased PEV usage. More demand nationally and overseas will likely increase the direct economic gains. These could include new manufacturing jobs in a sector poised for long term consistent growth with massive export opportunities; yielding opportunities from the mountains to the sea.