Riverside Charged Up about Electric Vehicles

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Riverside – Today, University of California Riverside students, faculty and members of the greater Inland Empire community participated in the Riverside Electric Vehicle Day, test driving electric cars and electric bikes available on the market today and learning about how electric vehicles can reduce air pollution, combat global warming, improve health and save working families money.

The Electric Vehicle Day provided many participants with a first-time opportunity to get behind the wheel of an electric vehicle, to learn about rebates, loans and financing options, and to envision a clean air future for the Inland Empire, which consistently ranks among the worst areas in the nation for smog and particle pollution, according to the American Lung Association.

“Riverside and Inland Southern California are projected to be among the fastest growing regions of California over the next 20 years,” said Riverside City Council Member Mike Gardner.  “We already suffer high particulate and ozone levels, largely produced by the transportation sector. A transition to zero emission vehicles, including a range of plug in electrics, will help us continue to improve our air quality despite the coming growth.”        

The event was co-hosted by the Charge Ahead California campaign, the University of California Riverside’s Center for Environmental Research & Technology (CE-CERT) and the CALPIRG UCR student chapter.

“Given that California’s transportation sector is the state’s #1 source of air pollution, we need to revolutionize the way we drive, rapidly transitioning to clean electric vehicles,” said Michelle Kinman, clean energy advocate with Environment California Research & Policy Center, one of the organizations leading the Charge Ahead California campaign to bring 1 million electric vehicles to California by 2023 and to ensure that households in low-income communities, which are disproportionately impacted by air pollution, benefit from zero-tailpipe emissions.

The Charge Ahead California campaign achieved an important victory earlier this fall, when Governor Jerry Brown signed into law legislation (SB 1275), authored by Senate President pro Tempore Kevin De León, which will provide generous incentives to make it easier for low- and moderate-income families to ditch their old, heavily polluting vehicles and purchase a new or used plug-in electric car.

“I am proud to have supported the Charge Ahead California Initiative in the legislature to make electric vehicles affordable to all Californians,” said Assemblymember Jose Medina.  “The Inland Empire is already a hub for electric vehicle research and manufacturing, and by deepening our commitment to electric vehicles, we can clean up our air, reduce global warming pollution and create more local jobs.”

This past summer, the Riverside County Economic Development Agency was awarded a $497,000 grant from the California Energy Commission to install a system of EV charging stations across the county at workplaces, key destinations, and prime corridors to ensure that use of EV transport is convenient, accessible and affordable.

“Riverside County is working in harmony with our partners in academia, business and environment to develop renewable resources that will create a stronger economy and cleaner, more livable communities,” said Phil Rosentrater, deputy director of the County of Riverside EDA.

“Plug-in electric vehicle technology is an essential component for our UCR sustainable transportation goals,” said Matthew Barth, director of CE-CERT. “With this event, the public was able to see a variety of electric drive vehicles and how easy they are to drive. When you combine electric vehicle charging with solar energy as we do here at CE-CERT, you can get a true net-zero carbon transportation solution.”

“As my generation starts working and buying our first cars, we have a tremendous opportunity to choose clean electric vehicles,” said Dinah Muhammad, UCR freshman and grassroots coordinator of the CALPIRG UCR student chapter, which turned out students to the event.  “I’m proud of UCR for leading the way towards a clean energy future and introducing students to the growing variety of electric vehicles available today.”

The electric cars for the event were provided by Alvarez Motors, BMW of Riverside, Complete Coach Works, Raceway Nissan, Riverside Public Utilities, Walters Fiat and the City of Riverside. Electric scooters and bikes were provided by Mahindra GenZe and Pedego, and an electric shuttle bus was on display from Phoenix Motorcars. The University of Riverside’s own 30 passenger electric trolley was also on display.

“It is time to move to electric transportation and enjoy the benefits of a more stable, sustainable and less expensive energy supply,” said Jim McCarty, president of the Electric Vehicle Association of Southern California, which helped to coordinate the vehicles for the event.

“It’s great to see the Inland Empire embracing electric vehicles as our future because we cannot leave the health of our planet and our communities to chance,” said Michelle Kinman, clean energy advocate with Environment California Research & Policy Center. “It’s time to charge ahead, break our dependence on oil, clean up our air, improve our health and protect our climate.”

For more information, please visit www.chargeahead.org.

Charge Ahead California is a campaign by the Coalition for Clean Air, Communities for a Better Environment, Environment California / Environment California Research & Policy Center, The Greenlining Institute, and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

CE-CERT, UCR’s largest research center, investigates new ways to produce energy and fuel from renewable sources, efficiently use electric transportation through advanced vehicles and improve our energy efficiency through smart grid development. This research is part of our Center’s mission and part of the UC’s move to a net zero campus by 2025.  

CALPIRG (California Student Public Interest Research Group) is a statewide, student directed and student funded non-profit that works to take on powerful interest on behalf of the public to protect our environment, protect consumers, and protect our democracy.  Statewide, we represent over 30,000 students and have had a chapter at UC Riverside for over 10 years.