Drive Electric Tennessee Needs Assessment Released for Statewide Charging Infrastructure

Drive Electric Tennessee published the Statewide Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure Needs Assessment in November, following the release of the first edition of its Electric Vehicle Roadmap on January 18, 2019. The Roadmap set a goal to boost EV adoption to 200,000 by 2028 and identified projects and initiatives local stakeholders can implement to increase EV adoption statewide. 

The purpose of the assessment was to analyze the state’s current electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure and find where new chargers should be placed to promote the continued adoption of EVs. According to the assessment, the main questions explored in the project include:

  • What is the coverage, usage, and state of repair of current charging infrastructure in Tennessee?
  • What are the plug-in electric vehicles (PEV) charging infrastructure needs in the state to support goal of 200,000 PEVs in Tennessee by 2028?
  • What gaps exist between the current infrastructure and future infrastructure needs?

To address these questions, the executive summary of the assessment is divided into four parts. According to the summary, the scope and key takeaways from each of these four parts are as follows:

  1. Baseline Light-Duty Assessment: In a research study of available data complemented by a field survey of 48 charging sites across the state, the assessment discovered:
    • 87 percent of surveyed charging sites were fully operational, matching public data from Plugshare.
    • There are opportunities for improvement with both user and host experience.
  2. EV Charging Use Case Tracks: Navigant’s VAST network siting optimization tool was used to identify potential geographic areas for charging infrastructure in order to meet the 200,000 EV goal. The assessment produced two maps of potential geographic areas for EV charging infrastructure to support deployment goals, which are:
    • Fast charging network map: Concentrated on or near corridors and high demands sites.
    • Level 2 charging network map: Complementary stations at fast charging sites and the majority of remaining use case tracks. 
  3. Use Case Prioritization: Through an evaluation of charging use cases based on market attractiveness and social impact, the assessment found that:
    • Primary market charging sites are more likely to attract private investment.
    • Corridor and secondary market sites may not attract private investment and are good candidates for public funding.
    • Multi-family sites are both attractive to private investment and have high social impact.
  4. Program Benchmarking: Data was collected on demographics, market development, utility programs, state EV policy, and outreach efforts across state and utility programs with attributes most relevant to the Tennessee market. The assessment found:
    • Broad stakeholder support is important to increase EV adoption.
    • Education and outreach efforts are important to successful programs.
    • Utility investment in make-ready infrastructure and EV rates are common in utility programs.

As TAEBC wrote earlier this year, advanced energy solutions, such as the adoption of clean transportation solutions, present economic development and job creation opportunities for the state. This newly released assessment highlights the value of moving forward with EV projects outlined in the Roadmap and establishing Tennessee as a powerhouse for EV manufacturing and use.

This goal was realized in November, when Volkswagen broke ground on its $800 million EV expansion at its Chattanooga plant, which will produce two battery-powered cars and create 1,000 new jobs in the region.

Volkswagen breaks ground on electric vehicle expansion at Chattanooga plant

Volkswagen recently broke ground on its $800 million expansion of its Chattanooga Assembly Plant that will produce two battery-powered cars and create 1,000 new jobs in the area. Construction is projected to take 17 months and hiring will begin at the end of 2020.

Around 200 company and auto industry representatives, state and local officials, plant employees, and members of the media gathered for the groundbreaking ceremony on November 13.

“This is a big, big moment for this company,” said Scott Keogh, president and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America, in a prepared statement. “Expanding local production sets the foundation for our sustainable growth in the U.S. Electric vehicles are the future of mobility and Volkswagen will build them for millions of people.”

The factory expansion includes a 564,000-square-foot addition to the body shop and another 198,000 square feet for an assembly site for the vehicles’ electric battery packs. Tom du Plessis, CEO of Volkswagen Chattanooga said the plant is expected to produce over 100,000 electric vehicles (EVs) a year, with the possibly for 200,000, depending on the market.

Volkswagen currently produces its midsize Atlas SUV and the Passat sedan at the Chattanooga facility. Production for its EVs should begin in early 2022, where the first model will be an all-electric crossover based on the I.D. CROZZ Concept. It will be the first EV produced in the country using Volkswagen’s MEB platform.

This Volkswagen groundbreaking also further reinforces the state’s goal of becoming the top electric vehicle producer in America, as stated by Bob Rolfe, Tennessee Economic and Community Development Commissioner. Rolfe was quoted in the Chattanooga Times Free Press, “Our goal is to be at the forefront of all electric vehicle manufacturing and the suppliers that will wrap around.”

TDEC issues RFI on light duty ZEV supply equipment

On November 1, 2019, TDEC issued a Request for Information (RFI) to solicit program design feedback for the forthcoming solicitation under the Light Duty Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Supply Equipment category.

TDEC also plans to leverage program design insights from Drive Electric Tennessee’s Statewide Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure Needs Assessment, which is expected to be published on TDEC’s Drive Electric Tennessee webpage. TDEC encourages respondents to review this Needs Assessment when compiling feedback.

View the Light Duty SEZ Supply Equipment RFI here

Respondents may submit information in response to some or all of the questions contained within the RFI (Section 5: Information Requested, pages 7-12). Responses should be transmitted electronically to TDEC.OEP@tn.gov in PDF format and must be received by 4:00 pm CT on December 6, 2019. TDEC will conduct a comprehensive review and evaluation of all responses.

TDEC will continue to release solicitations for funding under the VW Settlement EMT in the coming months. Interested persons are advised to sign up for the TDEC VW Settlement email list at https://signup.e2ma.net/signup/1843437/1737620/ to be kept apprised of all future and related announcements. For additional information on the VW Settlement, visit the TDEC website here: http://www.tn.gov/environment/VWSettlementClick here to learn more about TDEC’s project solicitations under the VW Settlement EMT.

Tennessee’s influence in electric-car sector expanding after Denso announcement

(Credit: Knoxville News Sentinel)

Tennessee will be meeting the future demand for electric vehicles, after Denso Corp. announced the company would spend $1 billion expanding its Maryville, Tennessee facility and hire 1,000 workers.

It comes as major automakers prepare to design new fleets of electric cars in response to the popularity of the Tesla electric car brand and the push for battery-powered vehicles overseas.

Denso’s investment would include safety components and systems for purely electric cars powered only by batteries as well as for hybrid vehicles like Toyota’s Prius that back up a gasoline engine with an electric motor.

The expansion would be the largest ramp up related to electric vehicles in Tennessee since Nissan borrowed $1.6 billion from the U.S. government’s green-car initiative in 2009. The company used the money to help cover the cost of preparing the assembly plant at Smyrna in Middle Tennessee for production of the Leaf electric car.

Read the full story here.