As the state progresses in installing electric charging stations for cars, a manufacturer of vehicles is looking at Illinois as a perfect market for one of their cars. Ford has rolled out its first all-electric vehicle, and recently had them on display in Chicago. Eric Kuehn, Ford’s chief engineer for global electrified programs, says the Focus has a range of 76 miles on a full charge, making Chicago a good market for the vehicle.
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“One of the things that’s key in a lot of this is around the marriage between what’s happening within the infrastructure as well as what’s happening within the automobile,” Kuehn said. “So as those two converge on each other and they work together, than obviously a city like Chicago, that is actually on the forefront and moving and trying to be green, actually putting in these charging stations, obviously it then sets up for customers who want to actually use an electrified product.”
Kuehn gives Illinois credit for jumping on the EV bandwagon early on. Over the past year, the state has ramped up public-private partnership efforts to install electric charging stations. The Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity has been responsible for disbursing $10 million in state capital funds to help EV manufacturing and infrastructure incentives. DCEO is also hosting electric vehicle forums across the state to inform consumers, including local governments, private groups, fleet owners, electric service companies, car dealerships, car rental companies, car mechanics and the general public. The first forum was last month in Springfield with future forums planned in Palos Hills and Belleville. DCEO is also providing rebates toward the installation of Level 2 charging stations to help motivate charging station installations. Other state agencies are doing their part in the EV movement. The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency offers the Illinois Alternate Fuels Rebate Program, which provides a rebate of up to $4,000 toward EV purchases. The Illinois Commerce Commission has launched a Plug-in Electric Vehicle Initiative to explore regulatory issues related to EV deployment. Many of those findings were released earlier this year.
Aside from DCEO’s Downstate forums, there have been collaborative efforts among local officials, business leaders, and educational institutions to create EV Town in Bloomington-Normal and to pass an EV infrastructure ordinance in Kane County. DCEO says those initiatives will serve as models for local EV initiatives throughout the nation.