Detroit Doesn’t Think Electric

Arguably environment has a lot to do with the way you think.

Arguably environment has a lot to do with the way you think.

This is an explanation for why, say, the Japanese vehicle manufacturers built small cars: they looked around Tokyo, and lo and behold, there were small cars, so they built more of them.

This is an explanation for why, say, the American automakers built SUVs: they looked around Detroit, and lo and behold, there were SUVs, so they built more of them.

OK. That’s not precisely right. But you get the picture.

Which is a roundabout way of getting to why it may be that there has been less-than aggressive pursuit of electric vehicles in Detroit: executives and engineers looked out their windows and saw a whole bunch of vehicles with internal combustion engines, so they figured that that’s what cars and trucks are all about. And so they built more of them.

As they had skin in the game, and as they put more skin in the game, they have pretty much figured that doing more of the same was the way to go.

And as consumers are comfortable and familiar with cars that you take to gas stations, not plug into outlets, the status quo remains so. Especially in places like Detroit.

This is a conclusion that can be drawn from research released by THINK, the electric vehicle company, which will start the production of EVs in Elkhart, Indiana, next year. The company conducted a survey to create the “EV-Ready Cities Index.” It takes into account purchase and usage incentives (are there special lanes for alt-fuel vehicles?), as well as factors including hybrid sales, traffic congestion, EPA non-attainment zone status, and potential lower-carbon energy sources for vehicle recharging.

Certainly as a small company they have to focus their efforts where there is the greatest potential for success. Or, as Richard Canny, THINK CEO, put it, “Ideally, we would like the THINK City to be available throughout the U.S. next year, but in our early commercialization phase, it is important that we first establish a strong concentration of sales in key, highly attractive markets, which support early adoption of sustainable, zero-emissions transport solutions.”

So here’s what they calculated:

THINK EV-Ready Cities Index scorecard

City

Purchase/Usage Incentives

Market Fit

Overall Score

Los Angeles

5.75

3.75

9.50

San Francisco

5.75

3.25

9.00

Chicago (tie)

5.75

2.15

7.90

New York (tie)

5.75

2.15

7.90

San Diego

5.75

2.00

7.75

Portland

5.55

1.95

7.50

Sacramento

5.75

1.50

7.25

Newark

4.85

2.15

7.00

Seattle

3.30

3.25

6.55

Atlanta

4.85

1.20

6.05

Denver

4.65

0.80

5.45

Boston

2.40

1.90

4.30

Washington DC

0.80

3.05

3.85

Philadelphia

2.40

1.70

4.10

Phoenix

1.70

1.90

3.60

Detroit?