County hopes co-op purchase will inspire public to buy electric vehicles

County officials and transportation partners on Thursday launched a cooperative buying program aimed at making electric vehicles more affordable and attractive to residents.

County Executive Marc Elrich and his administration asked residents to sign a pledge of support for the initiative and the co-op. Elrich hopes for 1,000 residents and 50 businesses sign this year.

Officials said those who make the pledge will be part of a group that, with county support, will try to negotiate better prices for electric vehicles and educate others about the benefits of switching from gas to electricity. ‘electric.

The focus on electric vehicles locally reflects an increase in interest globally. Axios reported on Wednesday, citing research firm BoombergNEF, that Global sales of electric passenger vehicles in 2022 is expected to be around 10.5 million, about 4 million more than in 2021.

Elrich and others said the local effort is part of the county’s actions to achieve the goals set out in its Climate action plan. The plan aims to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions in the county by 2035 and reduce them by 80% by 2027.

County officials will work on the co-op with the Coalition for Electrification, a national nonprofit organization focused on encouraging the widespread use of electric vehicles across the country.

Matt Stephens-Rich, the coalition’s program manager, told reporters that many local car dealerships are keen to offer electric vehicles. Coalition members will run a “consumer engagement campaign” in the coming months to teach them more about the benefits of owning one, he said.

Stephens-Rich said buyers often take time to make a decision, so now is the time to show them why electric vehicles are a good environmental and financial decision. And automakers have started to realize there is a market for electric vehicles, he added.

Part of the reason is federal and local tax credits and utility-based incentives, Stephens-Rich said.

Federal tax credits differ by car model and brand, but run into the thousands of dollars.

A guide by the county’s Environmental Protection Department shows that electric vehicle owners save thousands of dollars a year in combined fuel and maintenance costs.

“It’s making sure they have all the access and all the resources and know how to engage with customers and consumers, starting with: What’s the best electric vehicle option for me? How to recharge at home? These types of resources,” Stephens-Rich told reporters.

Elrich and Chris Conklin, director of transportation for Montgomery County, said the co-op will help the county meet the goals set out in the climate action plan. Elrich added that the county cannot do it alone.

Automakers are realizing that to meet climate goals they need to sell at lower prices, Elrich said. And there is also a market for urban environments, with shorter journeys and fewer charges, he added.

“I think we’re going to get a boost from what’s really going on with the industry, because they seem to realize that this needs to change,” Elrich told reporters.

John O’Donnell, president and CEO of the Washington Area New Automobile Dealers Association, told reporters Wednesday that many local dealerships are interested in the cooperative program and are educating potential customers about electric vehicles.

There have been supply chain issues in the manufacturing process, due to a shortage of semiconductor chips, O’Donnell said. Industry leaders hope that will normalize within six to nine months, he added.

In the short term, Stephens-Rich said initiatives like the co-op are important, to show manufacturers and industry that there is demand, or at least interest, for electric vehicles.

“These are numbers that matter. … Often the vernacular is that the squeaky wheel gets the grease, but so is showing that kind of market demand, especially in such a large metropolitan area,” Stephens-Rich said. “It’s part of how we advocate for prioritization of vehicle options.”

Steve Bohnel can be reached at

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