Island of O'ahu, Hawaii. Image: Wikimedia CommonsEnlarge Photo
Owning and driving an electric car is very much dependant on personal circumstances right now.
You can either afford one, or you can't. You can either get away with the limited range of an EV, or you can't. You're either motivated to reduce your impact on the planet, or you're not.
A new survey by Pike Research suggests that you're most likely to fit all the criteria most conducive to electric car ownership if you live on an island. So will islands be the real breeding grounds for EV ownership?
There's a lot to suggest that could be the case.
In theory, islands are ideal for electric cars. They aren't particularly big, so the tricky subject of range is rarely an issue. If you're physically limited by how much land there is to drive on, the distance your vehicle can cover is less likely to be a problem.
Islands also suffer from expensive gas prices. In Hawaii for example, the current average price of regular gas is over $4.50 per gallon, to the U.S. average of $3.85.
Pike Research also suggests that island residents are more motivated to reduce local emissions, and typically have higher income levels and attract more tourists than their mainland equivalents. Resort islands typically have warm, sunny climates too--perfect for solar power.
There are already plenty of island initiatives for electric cars. The Carribean islands are being served by Cayman Automotive Leasing and a joint project between Amp Electric Vehicles and U-Go Stations is also bringing electric cars to the islands.
In Hawaii, Better Place has installed 70 public charging stations, and this year, EV owners can charge their cars for free. According to Pike Research, Hawaii is expected to have more than 14,000 plug-in electric vehicles by 2017--ahead of much larger states like Kansas, Utah and South Carolina.
Even our recent test drive of the Renault Twizy urban electric car was island-based, on the Mediterranean island of Ibiza. While the Twizy might make limited sense for a rural mainland buyer, it suited Ibiza perfectly. The performance and range was more than suited to the island's limited road network, and charging would rarely be a problem. If you wished to make use of solar power, the island's climate would support that too--though ironically, sunlight was limited during our test.
Larger islands like Singapore and Japan are also looking towards EVs for the future, so it really does appear that islands may be the real hubs for electric cars, where their limitations are minimized.