Developing Strategies to Increase Access to Electric Vehicles

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With a projected increase of electric vehicle ownership over the next decade, University of Houston researchers are working to broaden access to low-income Houston families.
Bruce Race, director of the UH Center for Sustainability and Resilience (CeSAR) in the Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture and Design
Bruce Race, director of the UH Center for Sustainability and Resilience, is leading the effort to increase access to electric vehicles and will develop a digital master plan for a smart transit hub.

With a projected significant increase of electric vehicle ownership over the next decade, University of Houston researchers are working to better understand the infrastructure necessary to support EV adoption, while broadening access to new electric mobility technologies. 

Led by UH and funded by a $150,00 grant from the National Science Foundation Smart and Connected Communities (S&CC) program, the collaborative project brings together METRO, commercial EV charging companies, rideshare partners and the community to analyze strategies to support EV ownership for low-income families in Houston. 

The team will also develop a digital master plan for a smart transit hub to establish an overall context of equitable, smart, clean and safe electric mobility, according to the lead Principal Investigator Bruce Race, director of the UH Center for Sustainability and Resilience (CeSAR) in the Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture and Design. 

“Greater access to new technologies requires reduction in economic barriers to EV ownership and transportation services. Communities need to proactively plan for transportation technologies to improve the lives of low-income communities while lowering emissions, increasing transit use, and reducing congestion,” said Race.

The NSF’s Smart and Connected Communities program supports integrative research that addresses fundamental technological and social science dimensions of smart and connected communities. 

“The shift to battery power will only pick up pace from here, so cities need to be prepared to react and adapt to the evolving infrastructure needs that will be necessary to make this transition as smooth as possible,” according to Ramanan Krishnamoorti, UH chief energy officer and the project’s Co-PI.

The project team also includes from UH: Driss Benhaddou, professor of computer engineering technology; Vikram Maheshri, associate professor of economics; Aron Laszka, assistant professor of computer science; and Kimberly Williams, METRO’s chief innovation officer.

Last month, President Biden set a goal for half of all new vehicles sold in the United States by 2030 to be electric-powered. The federal plan also includes establishing a nationwide network of charging stations, financial incentives for consumers to go electric, and financial aid for vehicle manufacturers to support new electric mobility technologies.

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