Electric Vehicle Planning Study
Electric vehicles are not a distant daydream, they are a growing part of the transportation landscape. From cars on the roads to buses in the fleet, the Twin Cities region is embracing this technology.
Why study electric vehicles
Transportation emissions are the greatest contributor to greenhouse gases
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is just one benefit of electric vehicles. They can also improve air quality and reduce health impacts of burning fossil fuels, reduce maintenance and fuel costs for the public, and are fun to drive.
The electric vehicle marketplace
There are significant commitments by large companies to electric vehicles. Several auto makers have announced that they will be phasing out gas powered cars by 2030/2035. In addition, companies that have large fleets of delivery trucks, or buses like our own Metro Transit, are also beginning the transition to electric – Metro Transit Electric Buses. Power companies are also working toward the switch with infrastructure to support the growing demand. Auto makers sold more than 800,000 fully electric vehicles in the United States in 2022, almost 6% of all vehicles sold, up from about 3% in 2021 (New Car Sales Fell in 2022, But New Electric Car Sales Rose Dramatically - Kelley Blue Book)
Regional challenges need regional solutions
In 2021 and 2022 the Met Council worked with Great Plains Institute and Bellwether Consulting on an Electric Vehicle Planning Study. This study identified policies and investments that can help accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles across our region. This effort will support communities and ensure a high quality of life for residents, like the region’s other essential services and infrastructure — Metro Transit's bus and rail system, Metro Mobility, Transit Link, wastewater treatment services, regional parks, planning, affordable housing, highways and more.
We are laying the groundwork for electrification by studying the technical background and supportive actions regional partners can take, the investment needed to build and run a charging system, the positive impacts on climate change and public health, and the hurdles we face in adopting the technology.
- Identify strategies to accelerate electric vehicle adoption in the Twin Cities as a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve public health.
- Guide future investments, policies, and other work to accelerate electric vehicle adoption for the Met Council and partner agencies.
- Inform the 2040 Transportation Policy Plan and other investment and policy proposals.
This work resulted in three reports that cover a summary of the electric vehicle landscape, an analysis of equity in electrification strategies, and a set of recommendations that the Met Council can carry out to accelerate adoption of the benefits of electric vehicles.
Electric Vehicle Landscape Summary
The Electric Vehicle Landscape Summary provides the technical background to further evaluate and prioritize strategies that the Met Council can leverage to accelerate electric vehicle benefits for our region’s climate, public health, and transportation costs. Best practices to accelerate adoption often include increasing vehicle availability and access, building out charging infrastructure, and education, outreach and marketing. The report includes examples for each category.
Electric Vehicle Landscape Summary (PDF)
Key points from the landscape summary include:
Climate change and health
- The transportation sector is the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in the United States and in Minnesota. Light-duty vehicles (e.g., cars, sport utility vehicles and pickup trucks) are the largest contributor of those emissions.
- Electrification is one of the leading strategies to reduce transportation’s impact on climate change and public health. It is especially important for people who experience higher exposure because they live close to high-traffic corridors.
Electric vehicle marketplace
- Electric vehicle models are becoming more common, filling more of people's needs. As the vehicles’ ranges have quickly increased, many models far exceed the typical daily needs of drivers.
- Electric vehicles still make up a small part of the entire fleet; however, they are gaining popularity and market share.
- Electric vehicles include plug-in, hybrid electric vehicles, which have both a gas engine and an electric motor and battery, and battery electric vehicles that are only powered by an electric motor and battery.
Electric vehicle charging
- Light-duty electric vehicles can be charged on Level 1 (120 volts), Level 2 (240 volts) or direct current fast charging (50 kwh +). While most charging will happen at home, where Level 2 is desirable, a wide variety of types and locations of public charging is necessary to match the current convenience of filling up at a gas station.
- Electric grid system operators and electric utilities are planning for increased load and grid impacts to support electric vehicles. Utilities often have incentive programs to promote charging at home. In many cases, they also encourage charging at times that can help grid reliability and be most climate friendly.
Equity Analysis Summary Memo
Many people in our region face historical and structural barriers to living healthy, thriving lives, and transportation is one of the barriers. For example, vehicle emissions and poor air quality disproportionately impact Minnesotans who are Black, Indigenous, or People of Color. Housing and transportation affordability can also be a factor that plays into levels of exposure and health outcomes. This equity analysis includes an in-depth literature review, interviews with people and organizations across our region, and best practices for strategy implementation.
Equity Analysis Summary Memo (PDF)
- Research shows that electric vehicle users tend to be white, middle-and-upper income, urban, and male. The vehicles remain unaffordable to many, and the charging infrastructure is not yet widespread enough to support owners who rent or live in multi-family buildings.
- Electric vehicle equity recommendations fell into the following categories:
- Planning and research
- Equity in charging infrastructure
- Benefits and burdens on the public and non-electric vehicle users
- Equity in access, use, and ownership
- Leadership and community engagement
Analysis and Recommendations
Evaluates and prioritizes strategies we can undertake to accelerate electrification. The analysis categorized strategies into the following groups:
- Support Additional Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure
- Increase Electric Vehicle Availability
- Marketing, Education, and Outreach
- Further Study is Required
Electric Vehicles Planning Study: Analyses and Recommendations (PDF)
Metro Transit electric buses — Metro Transit has been responsibly moving to greener operations since 2002 as one of the first adopters of hybrid-electric buses. A pilot program featured 60-foot electric buses on the METRO C Line, partially funded through a $1.75 million Federal Transit Administration Low/No Emission Grant.
MnDOT Sustainability and Public Health Electric Vehicles — In 2021 MnDOT developed an electric vehicle infrastructure plan to begin deploying a fast charger network across the state using the federal National Electric Vehicle Formula Program funds.
Drive Electric Minnesota is a partnership of Minnesota’s electric vehicle champions, dedicated to encouraging the deployment of electric vehicles and the establishment of electric vehicle charging infrastructure through public-private partnerships, financial incentives, education, technical support and public policy.
EV Smart Cities and Native Nations Program began as Cities Charging Ahead! with a peer cohort of 28 cities that worked together across Minnesota to explore electric vehicle readiness. Great Plains Institute designed this new program to provide more communities with a readiness roadmap.
The EV Spot Network
is a project developed by the City of Saint Paul, City of Minneapolis, HOURCAR, and Xcel Energy to create a network of electric vehicle charging hubs throughout the Twin Cities and make electric vehicles publicly available through the Evie car-sharing service