Normal, Illinois is like many small U.S. towns. Located on the northern fringes of Bloomington, Il., a large percentage of its 54,000 population are employed by either the Illinois State University, State Farm Insurance, Country Financial, or Mitsubishi Motors North America.
Despite how normal Normal is, however, the town is home to more than 300 electric cars, equating to one electric car for every 180 residents. This is far higher than the U.S. national average of one electric car for every two to three thousand residents, so how did Normal do it?
The answer is part legislation, part governmental support, and really great EV infrastructure, as Normal’s awesome new EV-oreinted EVTown documentary details alongside its new education and promotional website, EVTown.org details.
The documentary — which interviews everyone from its council members and Major through to EV drivers and everyday residents — details how the town’s interest in electric cars dates back to its eco-friendly Major and a whole slew of enviornmentally-responsible incentives.
Normal’s love-affair with electric cars goes back several years, and can be traced — at least initially — to Mitsubishi North America. That’s because Normal happens to be where Mitsubishi North America’s production facility has been based since the 1980s. And when times were tough for Mitsubishi back in 2011, pro-EV Major Chris Koos, along with Illinois governor Pat Quinn, worked hard to brand the town ‘EVTown.’ As part of that, the state and town cut a massive incentives deal with Mitsubishi to save 1,200 jobs at the Normal facility and encourage EV adoption in the area.
Working with local businesses and the local government, Koos and his staff realised that Normal was perfectly disposed to become a leader in electric vehicle adoption — and not just Mitsubishi cars. So the Blooming-Normal Electric Vehicle Task Force was set up and the concept of the EVTown was born.
It didn’t take long for legislators in Normal and neighbouring Bloomington to aggressively develop the necessary public charging infrastructure needed to encourage its residents to feel confident enough in electric car technology to dump the pump for good.
Using Federal grants, Normal purchased 48 level 2 stations which it placed throughout the town, as well as one CHAdeMO DC quick charge unit. Earlier this year, the city council voted 5-2 to
approve a five-year lease of four Tesla Superchargers, allow Tesla to license spaces in the town to locate four Superchargers, making the town a stop-off point for any Tesla Model S owner, state resident or visitor.
With so much charging infrastructure, not to mention a waiver of the usual permit fees charged on public or private electric car charging stations installed within the town’s limits and a 1 percent sales tax rebate for all Normal residents on the purchase of a new EV, it didn’t take long for EVs to make economic and environmental sense.
Once incentives were in place, dealers soon followed suit, offering unbelievable lease deals on cars in an attempt to cash in on the local EV buzz. Combined with free charging all over town, it’s no surprise that EVs are now the norm in Normal, and the town’s commitment to plug-in cars extends far beyond the Mitsubishi i-Miev with plug-in cars from every major manufacturer represented in and around town.
It may have started as a cute marketing campaign on behalf of Mitsubishi, but these days, Normal’s pro-EV stance has made its self-appointed title as EVTown a self-fulfilling prophecy. So is it something our own cities and towns could replicate?
We think so, but what do you think? Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.
Hat-tip: Brad Horton for the video link!
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