Zero Emissions Vehicle

The purchase and use of zero emission vehicles and high efficiency vehicles in the United States has increased rapidly over the past 15 years. From a market that was nearly non-existent in 2000, sales of high fuel efficiency vehicles have increased substantially, and by January 2016 Rhode Island had 691 registered Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEVs). Overall, 13 manufacturers with at least 16 models are represented, giving Rhode Islanders a diverse selection of vehicles to choose from. With at least 6 more models slated to hit roadways within the next two years, it is expected that the demand for ZEVs will continue to climb.

ZEVs, which are cars powered by one of several types of technology that that produce no tailpipe emissions, require a different kind of fueling infrastructure from that utilized by conventional automobiles. Rhode Island’s cities and towns are uniquely positioned to plan for the continuing expansion of the Zero Emission Vehicle market. Though issues like building codes and utility regulation require state level action, the cities and towns of Rhode Island will have a disproportionate impact on the market uptake of ZEVs simply because local governments control parking and land use. Since many ZEVs need to plug in to the electrical grid to refuel, and because parking spaces are the most convenient places to charge, the design of parking is a crucial issue. Through the use of local ordinances and direct municipal land ownership, local cities and towns can help to encourage the construction of the infrastructure desired by drivers of ZEVs.

This handbook provides a variety of policy options that can be used together to provide drivers and land owners with the incentives they need to continue the expansion of Rhode Island’s charging infrastructure. By removing obstacles and setting standards for parking design, land use, and driver behavior, the cities and towns of Rhode Island can begin to enjoy the economic and environmental benefits of ZEV use.

Electric vehicle charging station at beach

Research Technician