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Equitable EVs

EVs (electric vehicles) offer big promise to communities around the world—but is it equitable? That seems to be the query everyone is asking these days and it is certainly a good one that many companies, nonprofits, and government are questioning.

Here in South Carolina, we see the rise of electric vehicles, both in terms of an increase in manufacturing and consumer adoption. Now, we are seeing one company offered rides in EVs and requested feedback on if this is a realistic future transportation option for the community.

In August, Dash EV offered rides in the Nicholtown community. In partnership with Sustaining Way, the companies introduced residents to the EV technology as a potential option that would provide more reliable alternative transportation in the Greenville area (Nicholtown is known for its history and character and is located less than two miles from downtown Greenville, S.C.).

The organization Sustaining Way uses education, collaboration, and advocacy to create sustainable, caring, and equitable communities for future generations. The nonprofit uses a community-based approach to sustainability through a demonstration site.

Sustaining Way Executive Director Michael Brown says the inclusion of historically marginalized communities like Nicholtown predicts their ability to be at the forefront of emerging technologies and inclusion is truly the first step to enabling the use of advanced technologies. Residents who took a ride in the EV in August also had the option to give feedback about if this could be an option as future transportation.

Dash EV opened its headquarters in downtown Greenville in October 2022 and recognizes South Carolina as a good location for the headquarters because of the state’s commitment to green energy and EV production—something I have written about before on this blog.

The company’s EV starts at $9,500 and is a low-cost model that aims to compete with golf carts. It is advertised as a safer alternative to high-strength aluminum used by more prominent automobile manufacturers. If you haven’t been to the website, check it out. The company is trying to be very innovative and unique with size and colors.

In addition to offering free rides in the Nicholtown community in August, Dash EV will go to Clemson University next where the company will be part of a two-year research program for a mobile solar charging hub.

The organization previously partnered with Chicago’s Bronzeville community and worked with The Ohio State University as a development partner. Other pilot universities include the University of Wisconsin and Colorado State University.

While this is simply one example, we are seeing the rise of EVs across the world. Now the question remains: How do we make it equitable for all people to have access to the advancement of technology and how do we roll out the vehicles and the infrastructure on a wider scale?

The ITIF (Information Technology & Innovation Foundation) has done an extensive report on the adoption of electric vehicles by low-income and disadvantages populations and has found there are three key barriers to EV adoption: range, price, and charge time. If we are going to move forward with electric vehicles, we must address these barriers. It is only when we all have access and adopt that we will reach the necessary decarbonization levels.

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