As Electric Cars Revolutionize the Vehicle Market, New Study Helps California Cities Address Infrastructure & Parking Challenges

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[LOS ANGELES, CA] – With electric vehicles (EVs) hitting California streets in record numbers, a new study by Environment California Research & Policy Center and Frontier Group highlights best practices to help local officials make their cities as EV-friendly as possible. The new report, “Plugging In: Speeding the Adoption of Electric Vehicles in California with Smart Local Policies,” includes projected numbers for how many EVs could be in Los Angeles, Riverside, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco and San Jose by 2030, and how cities can accommodate the electric cars with enough places to park and recharge.

“A revolution is happening on California’s city streets,” stated Michelle Kinman, clean energy advocate with Environment California Research & Policy Center. “California cities must develop comprehensive solutions for electric vehicle charging now – and take action to put those plans into place – to be prepared for the larger numbers of EVs soon hitting local streets. With smart planning and policy, cities can reap the full benefits of California’s electric vehicle revolution.”

In particular, the report calls on local officials to implement the following EV-friendly policies:

  • Residential access to on-street EV charging
  • Access to public charging stations
  • Support for private investment in publicly-accessible stations
  • Incentivized EV parking and charging

By the end of 2017, more than 360,000 EVs had been sold in California, making up nearly half of the country’s total EV stock. Market analyses anticipate that EVs are poised for even more explosive growth in the near future. That’s good news, since California estimates that it won’t be able to meet the state’s long-term climate goals unless nearly all vehicles sold by mid-century are electric vehicles.

Even the change-resistant auto industry recognizes that the future is electric. GM plans to launch 20 EV models by 2023, while Ford announced last month it plans to invest $11 billion in EVs, with a goal of having 40 models by 2022. These new cars don’t just check off the “electric” box; they’re earning acclaim from mainstream car enthusiasts. The introduction of Tesla’s Model 3, the Chevy Bolt, and other more affordable, long-range electric vehicles suggests that growth in EV sales is just beginning. In fact, Chevrolet’s Bolt EV was named Motor Trend’s 2017 Car of the Year.

Environment California Research & Policy Center’s “Plugging In” report projects the number of electric vehicles that could be in six California cities as the state works to meet Governor Brown’s recent Executive Order for 5 million zero-emission vehicles statewide by 2030.

Without a concerted effort to expand access to charging infrastructure, rapid increases in electric vehicle sales could continue to outstrip the availability of places to charge them. Moreover, a lack of charging infrastructure could deter prospective EV owners from switching to electric cars, potentially hindering California’s efforts to meet ambitious zero-emission vehicle goals.

“Many California cities are laying a foundation for a future of electric vehicles by facilitating the growth of EV charging,” said Alana Miller, policy analyst at Frontier Group and co-author of “Plugging In.” However, California cities have a great deal of work to do in preparation for the torrent of EVs that are expected to hit the road within the next several years,” Miller said.

“This report offers a comprehensive look at what cities can do to help meet electric vehicle goals,” said a Tesla spokesperson. “We agree with the importance of putting cities at the forefront of this effort, and giving them a blueprint to support the electric vehicle movement.”

“Cities across California have a critical role to play in cleaning up our air by helping consumers make the switch to electric vehicles when they need to drive, and improving other transit options to help consumers choose NOT to drive whenever possible,” said Emily Rusch, executive director of CALPIRG, the California Public Interest Research Group.

The report’s authors note that local and state officials increasingly are having to lead on issues related to climate change, clean energy, and clean cars, as the Trump administration dismantles federal policies that offered concrete solutions to these issues. In the coming weeks, the administration is expected to propose new steps towards revoking federal fuel efficiency standards and weakening clean car policies.

“Adopting smart public policies, which have been implemented already in visionary cities—including here in California—can help more cities lead the electric vehicle revolution,” noted Kinman.  “For the sake of the environment and public health, it’s crucial that we expand access to clean transportation for those who live, work and play in our urban centers. And once we complete the transition away from dirty fossil fuels, we can all breathe easier.”