EVs offer the city the most immediate environmental benefits: removing polluting internal combustion vehicles from the road, and replacing them with zero emission vehicles. Mayors in the United States are preparing for the impending arrival of electric cars. At present, approximately one million electric vehicles are on North American roads. Research firm Guidehouse Insights predicts that number to reach 1.8 million by 2030. Most analysts believe that estimate is conservative. For planners to successfully manage the growing electric vehicle market in their city, it is essential to ensure that zero-emission vehicles have access to charging stations. One public charging station should be provided for every ten electric vehicles in a region, according to the International Energy Administration (IEA). If cities wish to maintain this level of charging, they must step up their efforts. It is crucial for city planners to understand that most electric vehicle charging takes place at home. It is estimated that 95 percent of private vehicles are parked (and not in use). In light of this, the World Economic Forum recommends that cities place a high priority on electrifying high-use vehicles, such as their municipal fleet, taxis, rideshare services, and public transportation. Not only would this assist in the construction of smart infrastructure for the transit system, but would also assist with traffic control and smart parking as well. First and foremost, electric vehicles should be convenient and affordable to charge. Consumers who have a positive experience with EVs are more likely to recommend them. Planners may be able to make the process easier by offering incentives to electric car owners, such as free parking, discounted charging, priority lanes, and exemption from congestion pricing.
In addition to EVs, charging stations can be used to understand charging behavior, as well as how energy resources (and roadways) are being used. As more users add EVs to city streets, charging stations become distributed data hubs for understanding charging behavior. Additionally, it is important to optimize the timing of EV charging events, which is why many smart cities have installed smart chargers that do not draw power during strained peak periods.
In most cases, electric vehicles operate as one-way chargers, where they take energy from the grid and do not return it. However, this is likely to change if this technology gains mainstream acceptance. When EVs become the norm, they can also provide the grid with much-needed backup energy storage.