Will Electric Cars Be The Next Red/Blue Divide?

U.S. best electric car cities

Ford—which is about to release an all-electric version of the Focus—just put out the above map of the United States with the cities it feels are best suited to electric car ownership. And with a few exceptions, it looks like the flyover states aren't making preparations for the messianic arrival of the electric car. What do you want to bet that in the next presidential election, we'll add "electric-car" to the litany of liberal-associative words like arugula, lattes, and sushi.

Mike Tinskey, manager of vehicle electrification and infrastructure at Ford, says the main thing that ties the cities together is that they have formed EV advisory panels (made up of including city and utility officials as well as manufacturers like Ford). And cities that are doing that seem to sit squarely in the blue states, and the cities that are the exceptions are the blue dots in otherwise red states.

Tinskey says that cities that ranked high on their list did so by making it easier to obtain permits for home charging stations, working with utility companies to set up cheaper rates during the night (when people will charge), and using an "urban planning approach to public charge station locations—meaning that they look at traffic flows and where people spend their parked time to determine charging locations." All of which means that the government needs to interfere in our lives a little more to make electric cars a feasible reality.

If the innovations that Ford has pinpointed in these cities actually result in widespread adoption in these cities, expect to hear Michele Bachmann talking soon about how she drives a good, old-fashioned gas burning car.

Note: Yes, indeed. Atlanta is in Georgia, not Alabama. We'll take it up with Ford, it's their map.

[Home page photo from Flickr user Markn3tel]

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  • Paul Scott

    Responding to Robert Strickland.

    Robert, if you don't like the coal power plant polluting your air, why are you using that dirty energy yourself? If you have a good roof for solar, you could install a PV system and use the sun to power your house and car. If you don't have a good solar roof, you could sign up for your utility's renewable energy program and use their wind energy. There are options to using dirty energy, you just have to look for them.

    Bottom line is that EVs are cleaner than gas burners even if you get your energy from coal. See http://images.pluginamerica.or... for a summary of some 40 studies that have looked at the well-to-wheels pollution of EVs vs. internal combustion. In every study, the EV was found to be cleaner.

  • Robert Strickland

    I might suggest a different angle.

    My truck burns gasoline, and it smokes and pollutes the air... which it does, what if I were buy an equvalent sized electric truck.

    The way that I see it, coal fired power station in the rural area about 40 miles from my home burns the cheapest form of coal from Argentina and billows smoke that I can see from my house. Isn't it simply this plant that will be powering my electric truck?

    I feel that "the electric cars panacea" is simply a facade. The is either from my tailpipe, or it is from the plant that I can almost smell from where I live.

  • Andrew Krause

    Take this map and overlay it on a map of "walkable" cities. That is to say, look at cities where your job, a grocery store, and other amenities are within walking or biking distance. That is the range in which an electric car makes sense. It has nothing to do with politics, and has everything to do with the practicality of the electric car whose current range is a little too short for most cities and commutes.

    I love (sarcasm) how this author tries to put a left wing political spin on every article he writes. Seriously... this is turning into another TreeHugger (a site that used to have meaningful articles).

  • Brian Wetjen

    I might be in "flyover" country, but I also drive a Prius. A lot of people here do. And FlexFuel vehicles, too. Don't dismiss the central states as a general area where nobody cares about economy and efficiency or resources. But do consider this: if someone lives in a smaller, rural town and has to drive 35 miles to the next town (or more) on a daily basis, an electric car is quickly not an option if the range is only 100-200 miles. We have a LOT of distance to cover and virtually no public transportation. Maybe the choices are because of things other than "Red" or "Blue" and more of practicality. Once someone solves the "how do I take a road trip in an electric car" problem, it's going to be possible to really push forward with larger adoption rates. Right now, it's just practicality and economics. No matter how much some farmer in the middle of South Dakota might believe in an EV, he simply can't make it work with daily distances and complete lack of service and repair options.