Goizueta had one team participate in the finals of a case competition to highlight the feasibility of electric vehicles in Atlanta. PHOTO: Tony Benner

A team of Goizueta Business School Evening MBA (EvMBA) students made it to the final round of the Electric Vehicle Case Competition, held on Sept.  13 on Emory University’s campus. Three teams from Georgia Tech also participated in the final round, and one of them, the Solar Jackets, took home the winning prize of $5,000.

Sponsored by Social Enterprise@Goizueta, The City of Atlanta’s Office of Sustainability, and Clean Cities Atlanta, the competition challenged an initial pool of twenty-five teams from across Georgia to devise a strategy for Atlanta to achieve its goal of becoming the first American city to have 50,000 electric vehicles (EVs) on the road by 2014.

Goizueta’s Team Electric, comprised of  13EvMBA students Michael Winston, John Rahiya, Branson Smith, and Patrick Woods, focused on ways to create demand for EVs when fewer than 10,000 have been sold nationwide year to date.

“We were all interested in electric vehicles and their potential viability in the not-too-distant future,” says Winston. “We felt we presented a strong, realistic and creative action plan.”

In order to increase sales, Team Electric advocated including hybrids, which enjoy greater demand, in any incentive program. Among the other recommendations were a $5,000 point-of-sale reduction on hybrids and EVs; a network of charging stations at supermarkets, malls, and major companies (i.e., places where people spend at least 15 minutes); and an extensive marketing campaign dubbed “Electric Peach” to increase awareness.

“It was definitely worthwhile to get involved,” adds Winston. “We increased our knowledge and understanding of the current climate surrounding electric vehicles, especially the respective approaches being taken by the private and public sectors. This experience can also be viewed as an investment for prospective employment down the road.”

The competition was open to all university students in Georgia, with the aim of using a crowd-sourcing approach to solve the problem. Twenty-five teams of nearly 100 students entered the competition and more than a dozen submitted plans. Ellen S. Williams, manager of program and partnership development for Social Enterprise@Goizueta, says that the city of Atlanta was seeking solutions to the electric car issue and reached out to Social Enterprise@Goizueta to mobilize the student community to generate ideas.

“All the [finalists] did an excellent job,” says Williams. “A student team in Professor Peter Roberts’ CSR & Sustainability class is synthesizing all the information and ideas from the competition and will make final recommendations to the city.”

Roberts, an associate professor of organization and management at Goizueta who spearheads Goizueta’s Social Enterprise initiatives, echoes Williams, saying, “We wanted ideas, and the students did an awesome job of delivering them.”