Oct. 4 (UPI) -- The governors of seven states in the western United States announced they signed an agreement Wednesday to create a network of charging stations in order to expand electric vehicle use in the region.
The leaders of Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming signed the memorandum of understanding encouraging wider use of the vehicles on a combined 5,000 miles of regional highways.
"This state-led effort shows how western states continue to work together to find innovative solutions and plan for a future where increasing numbers of people and families are traveling the West in electric vehicles," Montana Gov. Steve Bullock said. "I am pleased to sign onto this bipartisan effort to take practical steps to realize the economic and environmental benefits of coordinated infrastructure planning that will benefit us now and well into the future."
The memo seeks to:
-- address "range anxiety" by coordinating electric charging station locations so there's less overlap but enough frequency to keep vehicles charged;
-- create voluntary minimum standards for charging stations to create consistency in administration, operations and management;
-- develop opportunities to incorporate charging stations into planning and developing in the region;
-- encourage car manufacturers to stock a variety of electric vehicles in the seven states;
-- and develop funding in support of the so-called Regional Electric Vehicle West EV Corridor.
"This framework is another example of the innovation and bipartisan collaboration happening around energy here in the West," Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said. "Through this collaboration, we will drive economic growth and promote our outdoor recreation opportunities across our states. Our residents and the millions of visitors to our states will be able to drive electric vehicles from Denver to Las Vegas, from Santa Fe to Helena."
More than 90 percent of all transportation-related energy consumption in the United States comes from petroleum-based products, with electric vehicles accounting for a small fraction of total consumer use. A report from The University of Michigan's Transportation Research Institute said the sale of plug-in electric vehicles, battery-powered vehicles and hybrids have each increased by more than 700 percent since 2011.
Two million electric vehicles were on the road globally last year, with most of those in the U.S., European and Chinese markets.
The University of Michigan report, co-authored by Brandon Schoettle and Michael Sivak, found both battery-powered and plug-in hybrids are at the point where they're capable of meeting the daily travel needs of most U.S. drivers. Recent improvements in range and charging times, their report read, has led to wider acceptance and reduced "range anxiety."
According to The Denver Post, about 2 percent of new vehicle sales in the state are plug-ins.
Daniel Graeber contributed to this report.