Using EV's to Cut Air Pollution

Helping reduce air pollution see as one of the arguments to encourage the local adoption of electric vehicles.

Published: 19-Mar-2010

Across the auto industry, companies are on the hunt for electric vehicle launchpads: cities and regions most likely to give the upcoming generation of plug-in cars the smoothest possible entry into the market, and help them move into the mainstream. Many of the factors that come under consideration — a willingness to adopt new technologies, a forward-thinking utility and EV-friendly policies, for example — tend to reflect well on a city, and end up being touted the loudest (e.g. the race among some mayors to make their cities the world’s “EV capital”). Should part of a city’s darker side — its air pollution levels, which electric vehicles could help to reduce — also factor into the rollout plan?

French automaker Renault suggests today that it should, saying in a release that it has found in a city once dubbed the pollution capital of Europe what it calls the “perfect” place for an early trial of plug-in vehicles. “Milan in particular and Lombardy in general,” Renault said today, “are perfect testing grounds for the electric vehicles,” due not only to the government and population’s “pronounced enthusiasm for sustainable development,” but also the fact that this is “a region confronted with high levels of pollution.”

Most automakers working to launch plug-in vehicles over the next few years agree that they’ll need support from utilities, governments and other partners to help build the nascent market. And Renault isn’t the only automaker to point to air pollution as one qualifying factor for lead EV markets in recent months. China’s BYD Co. said in December that the Los Angeles area ranked “at the top of the list” for its planned electric model due to its air pollution problems, in addition to the region’s relatively high population density, sizable car market, affluent residents and willingness to adopt new technologies. Earlier this year, when Think released its index of the top 15 “EV-Ready” cities, CEO Richard Canny said in a statement that one element figuring into each city’s score was ”the opportunity for EVs to provide the maximum benefits possible from electric drive.”

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