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How Smart Cities Must Plan for Electric Cars

In a smart city, every electric vehicle must have access to a charging station within its driving range. So how should these stations be located? The good news: computer scientists have solved the general version of this problem. The bad news: it’s NP-hard.

The market for electric vehicles is booming. Take Tesla for example, which is making some 500 electric vehicles per week in California and has promised to deliver some 21,000 this year.

And other manufacturers are following suit—recent additions to the market include the Nissan Leaf, the BMW i3, the Ford Focus Electric and the Honda Fit EV to name just a few. If you aren’t already driving an electric vehicle, it can’t be for lack of choice.

There are plenty of reasons to hesitate, however. And one of them is the availability of charging stations where you can plug in and pick up some juice. In most cities, charging stations are few and far between. That means journeys have to be carefully planned to avoid the possibility of flat lining while out and about.


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