Washington state sets high bar for electric vehicles

By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |  July 12, 2018 at 6:24 AM
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July 12 (UPI) -- A policy adviser to Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said the state wants to be as prolific as low-carbon Norway when it comes to electric vehicle deployment.

Charles Knutson, Inslee's executive policy adviser on transportation and economic development, said there are around 28,000 electric vehicles on state roads now. The goal is to nearly double that to 50,000 by 2020.

"We are already a key leader in electric vehicles in the United States  --  but our goal is to be as good as Norway," he said.

Statistics Norway, the government's record-keeping agency, reported there were 142,490 total electric cars registered in the country at the beginning of the year, up more than 40 percent from one year ago. Passenger vehicles made up 97 percent of that total.

The Norwegian government said electric vehicles make up about 5 percent of the passenger fleet, compared with 3.7 percent at the end of 2016. Norway is a global leader in oil and gas production, but leans on renewable resources for the domestic market.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported battery-powered vehicle sales have accelerated the most for alternative vehicles, but accounted for less than 1 percent of total vehicle sales last year. Plug-in hybrids, meanwhile, saw their market share increase from 0.1 percent to 0.5 percent between 2012-17, while sales in non-plug-in hybrids declined from 3 percent to 1.9 percent

Knutson added that the state already passed its mandated 20 percent mix for electric vehicles in the state passenger vehicle fleet. To allay range anxiety, the state's Department of Transportation in September awarded $1 million in grants to install fast-charging stations at enough frequency so that drives won't have to go more than 50 miles on the state's busiest freeways without find a place to charge up.

Regionally, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has spelled out a vision for a state electric vehicle plan that will "electrify" the state's transportation corridors. In October, the governor led a bipartisan coalition of Western states in announcing plans for an electric vehicle corridor that would affect more than 5,000 miles of highway.

More than 90 percent of all transportation-related energy consumption in the United States comes from petroleum-based products.

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