The Buzz about Electric Vehicles

Vehicle electrification and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions have rapidly risen to the top of transportation topics in Colorado and throughout the United States.

To understand Colorado’s efforts, it’s important to understand where we stand with electric vehicles (EV) adoption. The Colorado Energy Office (CEO) has a dashboard that is a great resource to see how things are shaping up in Colorado for both the number of EVs and the charging infrastructure in the state.   Check it out here:  EVs in Colorado Dashboard | Colorado Energy Office

According to this dashboard there are 49,271 EVs on the road statewide, 1,466 level 2 charger locations (full charge takes several hours), and 222 fast charger locations (full charge in under an hour). The Colorado Energy Office has established a goal to up the number of EVs to 940,000 by 2030, a 19-fold increase. And on the charging front, a recent study by the CEO says achieving this goal will require about $1.2 billion in infrastructure investments over the next decade.

A variety of new innovations and infrastructure investments can help the state meet this goal. This includes new technologies and building a more integrated multimodal transportation system.

Innovation and Research

Increasing the range of heavier and fleet EVs is a critical aspect of adoption and one that continues to advance through research and design. ASPIRE, an electrification incubation center is taking a partnership approach to meeting this challenge. Led by Utah State University with partners at the University of Colorado and Colorado State University, ASPIRE is working to develop advanced technologies, including more powerful batteries and road-to-vehicle charging, that extend the range of electric vehicles.  Another topic this group has started to address is updating policy and regulation that impacts how revenue generated in the public right-of-way from various types of charging can be allowed, a challenge that will need to be considered  on both a national and state-by-state basis..

Building an Integrated Transportation System

A new mobility hub currently in design at the I-25/SH 119 interchange is an example of increasing charge infrastructure. Currently this area has few charging options, but a new Bustang stop with charging and communications infrastructure in the nearby parking lot will soon be under construction.

This hub – and others like it statewide –  will enable the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and local agencies to adapt and serve all forms of emerging EV mobility choices, such as automated shuttles, e-bikes, e-scooters and electrified transportation network companies (TNCs), such as Uber or Lyft. Other adaptive ideas to maximize the use of hub parking lots could be overnight electric freight and delivery vehicle charging. The entire hub network provides a near-term boost to mobility choices and electric charger network, and long term the hubs provide public places to adapt to market-driven needs and solutions over time.

A New Frontier for the Transportation Industry

Building an integrated transportation network encompassing all forms of electrified mobility choices requires new and innovative approaches to developing and implementing EV infrastructure solutions. Incorporating insights and innovations across the industry will deliver clean, convenient, and accessible EV mobility options to Coloradans.

Alan R. Eckman, P.E., PTOE, MBA is vice president of transportation, innovation and technology at AECOM and lives in Golden, Colorado. Alan is also a Board Member At-Large for Move Colorado.  He regularly works as part of a national team of experts to deliver unique services and capabilities.