Taxpayers have paid millions of dollars to help electric vehicle manufacturers not only get their products out on the road but also furnish electric car charging stations all over Nashville.
Prior reporting shows few people around Nashville appear to use these charging stations.
Yet officials with the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Nashville Electric Service expect more and more Nashville drivers will soon take up the habit of driving electric cars.
They’re preparing a study to gauge how Nashvillians can best prepare.
But must Music City drivers make way for more Chevy Sparks and Nissan Leafs?
According to a press release, FleetCarma, TVA, the NES, and the Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation are launching something called SmartCharge Nashville.
The statement says people interested in buying EVs wonder how far they can drive before they need a charge. Utilities also need to prepare for more EVs on the road, the release said.
SmartCharge is supposed to help with both of those things.
No one at the NES returned The Tennessee Star’s requests for comment Friday.
But TVA spokesman Joshua Clendenen said the following in an emailed statement to The Star:
“While the adoption of electric vehicles inside the Tennessee Valley has been slower to develop than other areas, we are starting to see signs that more people would consider driving electric especially as more affordable vehicle options become available,” Clendenen said.
“In recent surveys, about 9 percent of Valley consumers indicated they plan to adopt these vehicles in the next two-to-five years, but many are looking for more vehicle choice including larger format vehicles like small and medium SUVs.”
As Tennessee Watchdog reported in 2015, Tennessee had 2,568 registered EVs on the road.
In three years, that number has increased, slightly, to 3,735 EVs. Davidson County, meanwhile, currently has 746 registered EVs, according to Kelly Cortesi at the Tennessee Department of Revenue.
Tennessee Watchdog reported in 2011 that most consumers have no desire to own an EV because they cost more than traditional vehicles and can only travel 100 miles before they need a recharge.
In 2013, Tennessee Watchdog, for several hours, monitored some of Nashville’s nearly 600 electric charging stations at three destinations — the Loveless Café, the Brentwood Public Library, and the Nashville Airport Marriott.
Not a single person showed up to use any one of them.
Also, the federal Department of Energy gave a $1.4 billion loan to Nissan several years ago to retool their already existing plant in Smyrna for Leaf production.
In 2010, as reported, state and federal officials announced generous tax breaks — up to almost $10,000 — for state residents who bought the Tennessee-made Leaf, meaning many customers would have to pay only $26,000 of the vehicle’s $36,000 cost.
The rebates were available only for the Nissan Leaf and not its competitor, the Chevy Volt, because of Nissan officials’ involvement with ECO-tality.
Meanwhile, as reported in 2015, Tennessee officials spent $181,250 to put up three charging stations for electric cars at the Nashville International Airport. In five weeks, only 29 cars charged up, for a flat fee of $2 each.
At that rate, the charging stations would have paid for themselves over 300 years’ time.
– – –