Some Atlanta drivers — who are shouldering the highest car ownership costs in the nation — have seized upon an electrifying solution.
The number of plug-in cars on the road in Georgia is increasing by about 500 a month, and last month, Atlanta was the top-selling market in the country for the all-electric Nissan LEAF, surpassing even San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Paired with gains in the number of metro Atlantans choosing to telework, the rise in electric car purchases paints a picture of weary drivers looking for unconventional ways to save time and money.
While the number of electric cars is amping up, so is the debate on their value as relief from congestion and from reliance on fossil fuels. And perhaps of equal importance, its effect on gas tax revenue, the number one source of money to pay for the nations’s aging road and highway infrastructure.
Electric and hybrid vehicles still make up a tiny portion of vehicles on the road, about 2.2 million of the nation’s approximately 253 million registered vehicles.
Nationwide, about 150,000 plug-in vehicles were in service at the end of August, according to the Electric Drive Transportation Association. About 3,000 of them were on the road in Georgia, and that number is growing by at least 500 per month, according to the Don Francis, executive director of Clean Cities Atlanta.
Accenture consulting company forecasts 1.5 million electric-only vehicles in the United States by 2015. By 2020, more than 10 million electric vehicles could be on the road.
The Clean Air Campaign has not strongly endorsed electric cars choosing instead to focus on promoting carpooling. That’s because electric cars won’t help congestion if people continue to drive alone.
“We hope they choose to carpool when they’re riding in their EVs (electric vehicles),” said Brian Carr, a spokesman for The Clean Air Campaign.