Electric Vehicle Consumer Adoption


October 12th, 2023

Post by Alex Slaymaker, Smart Columbus Smart Mobility Adoption Manager

Smart Columbus has a hypothesis that we can influence the way our community moves by influencing the way our community gets to work. The approach of driving consumer adoption of alternative mobility through large employers at a local level is unique to the Smart Columbus program and a new model for increasing adoption across the country. 

The Smart Columbus Acceleration Partners program is a forum for engaging the local private sector to help Smart Columbus achieve these goals. It also serves as a platform for the private sector to support smart mobility projects. 

Through the program, partner companies select an employee to serve as a mobility ambassador, who acts as an empowered project manager responsible for leading internal workplace campaigns focused on mobility education and new mobility benefits. Ambassadors are provided free expert assistance on how to achieve these goals. 

Through the Ignite Action Fund, they also are eligible for financial assistance.

Incentive program design
The Smart Columbus Ignite Action Fund is a tool for Acceleration Partner program participants to fund new incentives and/or projects that motivate respective company associates to drive electric and/or drive less. The purpose of the fund is to accelerate the timeline for launching new mobility benefits by reducing a barrier-cost. The long-term goal is to help employers pilot programs and benefits for employees that can last beyond the funding period.

The Ignite Action Fund aims to empower individual companies to take ownership in helping Smart Columbus achieve its goals and create a portfolio of best practices across multiple companies that can be shared with other cities, NGOs and employers. 

The Smart Columbus Mobility Adoption team coaches partners on how to successfully design and launch their programs through one-on-one meetings and partner meetups where mobility ambassadors from other organizations share best practices and challenges with their initiatives. 

Some of the programs created with Ignite Action Fund support include:

  • 80% subsidized transit passes for full- and part-time associates
  • Electric vehicle purchase and lease rebates up to $2,000
  • Per-day incentives to reduce single-occupancy vehicle commuters using Gohio Commute
  • Expanding or deploying micro-transit routes for associates 

Eligibility requirements
Organizations that are part of the Smart Columbus Acceleration Partner program with an active senior leader and mobility ambassador are eligible to receive funding. Funding must go towards associates in the central Ohio seven-county region, to align with the Smart Columbus project area. Funds cannot be used for direct company vehicle or equipment purchases. Funding is distributed to partners on a reimbursement basis after a final report and documentation requirements are met.

Early lessons learned
The first round of the Ignite Action Fund was inclusive to both drive electric and drive less projects—projects that would help associates make the switch to electric vehicles or rely less on personal vehicles. Applications are reviewed by a committee made up of the Columbus Partnership, City of Columbus and the Electrification Coalition. In Round One, there was a set application deadline a few months after the program was announced and the Smart Columbus team learned this delayed innovation. Starting with Round Two, applications are reviewed on a rolling basis.

Round Three launched on January 31, 2019 and will fund both ‘drive electric’ and ‘drive less’ projects and will also be awarded on a rolling basis. In all previous rounds, funding was awarded up to $15,000 in matching contributions for each partner. In Round Three, we adjusted the matching funding model to award up to $15,000 for partner companies with over 500 associates, and up to $10,000 for companies with less than 500 associates, in an effort to ensure funding is distributed more equitably. 

Electrification projects are generously funded by Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, while ‘drive less’ projects are funded by the cash component of the Smart Columbus Acceleration Fund. By 2020, the goal is to award 20 companies funding through the Ignite Action Fund. 

To date, more than $74,000 of funding has been awarded to ‘drive less’ projects at seven partner companies to reduce solo occupant vehicle commutes. More than $55,000 has been awarded to help associates of four partner companies ‘drive electric.’

To learn more about projects funded, and what these projected accomplished, view the 2018 Ignite Action Fund Report below. Also available are program application documents including a Guidance document, Fact Sheet & Project Narrative and Rebate Tracking Template. More detailed Playbooks about the programs mentioned above will be shared during 2019.


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