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The future of electric vehicles in Arkansas

From electric cars to self-driving cars to drones, Governor Asa Hutchinson wants to make sure our state is prepared.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Governor Asa Hutchinson signed an executive order Tuesday, Feb. 22, forming a task force to take a step forward into the future of mobility in Arkansas. It’s called the Future Mobility Advisory Council.  

“The goal of the council that I’m creating by executive order today is to ensure that we are prepared for electrification, autonomous vehicles and advanced air mobility to integrate into our existing infrastructure and create an environment in which they can thrive,” Gov. Hutchinson said. 

The Future Mobility Advisory Council consists of private sector leaders in these industries and government leaders. The governor says the council will look at state laws and regulations that create barriers to electrification and air mobility and also make policy and program recommendations that support the development of this industry. They will also look at the education and workforce training needed in this industry.  

President Biden announced earlier this month that nearly $5 billion will be available under the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Formula Program to build a national electric vehicle charging network to make having electric vehicles more accessible. 

Arkansas Department of Transportation (ARDOT) Director Lorie Tudor who is on this council says ARDOT will receive $54 million of that $5 billion.  

“ARDOT and the Arkansas Department of Energy and Environment are partnering to develop a program to make Arkansas electric vehicle ready," Tudor said.

Ozarks Electric has five vehicle charging stations throughout the area, but they plan to have more to relieve some of the anxiety people may have when thinking about buying an electric car. 

“We’re continuing to see an uptick of usage of our chargers. Over the last 12 months, the energy usage at our chargers has tripled and we’ve seen 35 unique cars use our chargers at the rate of about 80 different sessions per month,” said Ashley Harris with Ozarks Electric Cooperative.

When you think of electric cars, you probably think of Tesla, but most car manufacturers that have been around for a long time are also starting to make electric cars. David Kelley is the General Manager for Superior Nissan in Fayetteville and says Nissan North America has committed to building 15 new electric vehicle models by 2030.  

“They are recommissioning our plant in Canton, Mississippi to build electric and batteries, so right now as far as the market goes, Nissan probably has a heads up on everybody on electrics because we’ve been producing electric cars since 2012,” he said. 

The governor has given the Future Mobility Advisory Council until Nov. 30 to finish their report. 

Click here to see the governor’s proclamation and a list of all the members of the council. 

RELATED: Biden orders gradual U.S. government swap to electric vehicles, renewable energy

RELATED: Governor Hutchinson signs Executive Order for the Commission on the Status of Women

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