Don’t let the name fool you; Normal, Illinois, is actually unique.
That’s because this small town — with a population of 53,837 — has more than 300 plug-in cars roaming its streets. And that’s because the town, along with neighboring Bloomington, has made a concerted effort to encourage the adoption of electric cars.
The initiative, dubbed EV Town, includes electric-car purchase incentives and an aggressive effort by the local government and businesses to develop charging infrastructure.
In addition to Federal and state incentives, new plug-in cars registered in Normal are eligible for a tax rebate equivalent to 1 percent of the town’s 7.75 percent sales tax.
One car dealer took things a step further. Earlier this year, O’Brien Mitsubishi offered a lease of $69 a month for 24 months on a Mitsubishi i-MiEV, significantly undercutting Mitsubishi’s official lease of $249 a month for 36 months.
The Mitsubishi i-MiEV is a common sight in Normal, which is home to the Mitsubishi plant that produces a gasoline model from the Japanese maker.
Normal used federal grant money to buy 48 240-Volt Level 2 charging stations and one DC quick-charging station, which uses the CHAdeMO standard.
In addition to the town-owned stations, Normal also leases four of Tesla Motors’ Supercharger quick-charging stations from Tesla Motors.
These public stations are currently free to access; Normal officials believe the cost of maintaining a system for accepting payments isn’t justified by the relatively small number of cars using the stations. If demand increases, drivers may have to start paying to recharge.
As a matter of policy, the local government also waives the electric permit fee for all charging stations installed in the town.
Why the focus on electric cars? Normal officials believe a small number of plug-in cars can make a bigger impact in a small town than they can in a big city. With enough incentives, they just might.
When it comes to promoting electric cars, perhaps other municipalities could benefit from being more Normal.
This story originally appeared on Green Car Reports.
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