By Liz Core, February 4, 2015
Last month, Kansas City, Mo. shocked the nation by launching an ambitious plan
to install over 1,000 electric vehicle charging stations within its
city limits, leaving traditional EV-lovers on the coast in a cloud of
carbon monoxide-free dust. Kansas City’s plan will increase its public
charging stations by 2,400 percent, up from 40 stations that are
Just to put this news into perspective: There are only 9,019 registered public electric charging stations in the entire country — and most EV-friendly
cities are located in the Pacific Northwest, in California, and on the
East Coast — y’know, all the regions you’d most expect to have a fleet
of matching sea foam green Nissan Leafs lined up neatly in the co-op
parking lot. But while we still tip our hats to California, the state
currently operates 2,000 public charging stations, a number that is now
shadowed by one city’s plan to install half as many. For
perspective: California has one station for every 19,000 residents,
whereas Kansas City would have one per 467.
Kansas City’s move toward emissions reductions left us wondering what
other electric vehicle meccas are out there in the oft-overlooked
Midwestern states. We found a number of powerhouse cities that are
quietly leading the charge for plug-in autos, and whittled them down to a
list of four other surprising EVtopias:
1. Starting first with the Second City, Chicago, and the surrounding area: In November, Governor Pat Quinn announced a plan to invest $1 million in a network of charging stations along Illinois’ famous Route 66.
Governor Quinn, along with a number of local government leaders, want
to make the Illinois portion of the storied highway into an “Electric
Corridor,” between Lake Michigan and the Mississippi River. They’re
installing seven charging stations to be finished by the summer of 2015.
Imagine taking to the open road with your best friend in an bright red
electric convertible — zooming down Route 66, stopping to charge up the
beast while you survey the beauty of the wide-open plains. It’s like a
21st century Thelma and Louise, but hopefully with a happier ending.
2. In a move the Pope would be proud of, St. Paul, Minn. recently committed to
“be a leader in the deployment of electric vehicles” by planning to
reduce the city’s CO2 emissions by 2020. The city has already installed 23 public electric charging stations,
and is moving toward installing [x??] additional stations [this
year??]. In St. Paul’s twin city, Minneapolis, there are currently 39 charging stations
in downtown parking ramps. The state is already home to more than 2,000
electric vehicle owners, so charging stations in higher demand. Looks
like all those above-average children in Lake Wobegon are making the right decisions about car ownership.
3. Madison, Wisc. is home to more than cheese-headed
football fans and spirited debates among liberal-minded college
students — the city currently has 27 public charging stations and
is on track to reduce Wisconsin’s oil consumption by 1,773,492 gallons
per year with the implementation of plug-in vehicles. The stations were
funded with the help of a $5.5 million stimulus grant from the U.S. Department of Energy back in 2009. Onward, Wisconsin!
4. Last but not least, we give you the alliterative wonder that is Indianapolis, Ind. Mayor Greg Ballard announced a plan to
gift the city a “Freedom Fleet” of 425 energy efficient plug-in sedans
by 2016. The vehicles will cost approximately $32 million, but will save
the city an estimated 2.2 million gallons of gas over the next decade.
In addition, the city’s car-sharing program will — with the help of
French ride-sharing experts The Bolloré Group — provide 1,000 plug-in
cars at sites across the city, which residents can rent for as little as
15 minutes. But hey, as the home of the Indy 500, we’re not surprised
that this city is zooming ahead in the national race towards carbon
So, Midwest, we’re pretty damn pumped for you — even if the gas stations won’t be.