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Electric vehicle sales beat goal Smart Columbus set for Columbus area
Drivers in the Columbus region seem to be warming up to electric vehicles.
From April 2017 to February 2020, a total of 3,323 electric vehicles were sold in the seven-county Columbus region, beating Smart Columbus’ goal of 3,200 by March 2020.
“What we’ve been able to prove in Columbus is a model for communities,” said Jordan Davis, Smart Columbus director.
When Columbus applied to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Smart City Challenge in 2016, only 0.4% of vehicles sold in the Columbus region were battery electric vehicles or plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.
City leaders set Columbus set a goal to increase sales to 1.8%, or 3,200 vehicles, by March 2020.
Davis said Smart Columbus programs to educate people about electric vehicles helped, including training programs at dealerships.
Matt Ringlien, a sales manager for Dave Gill Chevrolet, said 10% of all new vehicle sales at his dealership were electric vehicles, including the now-discontinued Chevy Volt, and also the Bolt.
Ringlien said Smart Columbus helped train his staff about the typical electric vehicle car buyer — more affluent and educated, and interested in environmental issues. “Sold on the concept,” he said.
Ringlien said it is unlikely that someone looking to buy a car that runs on gasoline will be persuaded to buy an electric car. He also said that the relatively high sticker price on something such as a Bolt — $40,000 to $44,000 — is an impediment even with rebates or financing offers. But he said he believes the price will come down as technology improves, and that the lower cost of pre-owned cars is a way to lure people into the electric market.
Davis said another way is to focus on the lease market.
Companies also bought into the program. Paul Heller, chief technology and operations officer at Huntington Bank, said the company has between 40 and 50 electric vehicle charging stations at its Downtown headquarters, at facilities at Easton and at its Gateway Center complex on Cleveland Avenue on the Northeast Side, and various bank branches.
Huntington sees the stations as a way to help attract and keep both employees and customers, Heller said.
And so far, 155 charging stations that provide 25 to 38 miles of driving per hour of charging, and another 28 direct-current fast-charging stations that provide 60 to 80 miles in 20 minutes of charging, have been created in the region through AEP Ohio’s $9.5 million incentive program.
The Smart Columbus Electrification Program was developed through a $10 million grant awarded to Columbus by the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation after Columbus won the Smart City Challenge. The program was designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.