Even if every major car manufacturer comes out with an electric car in the next few years, for plug-in vehicles to truly become mainstream we're going to need well-established infrastructure. In line with that, Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced a new partnership with the Department of Energy and Google to provide drivers with location data for charging stations, and $5 million in funding for cities to support electric vehicle infrastructure.
The initiative is part of the federal government's Clean Cities program, that encourages local governments to deploy clean technologies, including alternative fuels. Since it began in 1993, the program has helped save nearly 3 billion gallons of gasoline, the DOE said.
"The Department of Energy's Clean Cities initiative is bringing together local governments and industry to demonstrate the benefits of advanced technology vehicles and help communities use less oil and gasoline to power their vehicles," said Secretary Chu. "The initiatives announced today are just the latest steps in our broader efforts to reduce America's dependence on oil, improve our energy security, and save families and businesses money."
The DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is working with Google and other industry leaders to give consumers up-to-date information about EV charging station locations. The effort will use Google Maps as the “primary data source for GPS and mapping services”.
Meanwhile, local governments and private companies are encouraged to work together and apply for a part of the $5 million pot to help accelerate the installation of charging stations and infrastructure.
The federal government has been the biggest proponent of EVs, as part of an effort to reduce U.S. oil imports by one-third by 2025. From Tesla to LG Chem, several major players in the electric vehicle game have received funding from the DOE towards the development of EV technologies.
President Obama announced during his State of the Union address in January this year that he wants to see 1 million electric cars on the road by 2015. While that seems like an hefty goal, the DOE's initiative will at least help nudge us towards it.