Study predicts L.A. will be a top market for electric vehicles

May 13, 2011 By Seth Odell

Los Angeles will be a U.S. leader in the market for electric vehicles, with such vehicles accounting for nearly one out of every 10 automobiles purchased in the city in 2015, according to a new study published by the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation. The study is part of yearlong collaboration with Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's Office for Environment and Sustainability, with the support of the City Council and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

The analysis used data from registrations, "green" initiative voting results, a market survey of 2,000 Los Angeles residents supported by polling firm YouGov, U.S. Census figures and a variety other sources to arrive at the estimate.

"This is cutting edge and will be critical to informing Los Angeles' electric vehicle strategy going forward," Villaraigosa said. "Los Angeles has demonstrated itself repeatedly as a leader in this industry, and through this collaboration with UCLA, we have further strengthened L.A.'s commitment to become the EV capital of the world."

"Given the price of gas, the instability in oil-producing regions and Los Angeles' air quality, are clearly a wise investment for policymakers," Los Angeles City Council President Eric Garcetti said. "Making Los Angeles a leader in electric vehicles is not only a way to clean our air but to position ourselves at the forefront of an industry that will create high-quality manufacturing, research and technology jobs."

"For many buyers, electric vehicles will be hard to ignore," said J.R. DeShazo, director of the Luskin Center and an associate professor of public policy. "However, the analysis predicts only about 2,000 electric vehicles will be sold in Los Angeles in 2011. This number is due to the limited supply; even if more residents are inclined to purchase them, it just isn't possible right now."

The supply of electric vehicles will be limited until 2013 or 2014, the research team said, at which point it will increase to meet demand. In 2015, the researchers predict, electric vehicles will make up 9 percent of new vehicles — an estimated 30,000 vehicles — purchased by Los Angeles residents. By the end of 2020, they say, Angelenos will have purchased roughly 229,000 electric vehicles.

The analysis, which looked at 127 Los Angeles ZIP codes, allowed the team to identify which areas of the city would ultimately see the greatest number of electric vehicles, with the Westside and the Wilshire Corridor leading the pack.

The study also identified several opportunities for the city of Los Angeles to support and help boost the electric vehicle market with policies and education. One area in which the city could have a significant impact, the researchers said, would be in helping renters and residents of multi-family housing — about 70 percent of the city's residents — access electric vehicle charging areas. Many of these residents do not own their garages and face difficulties in installing charging equipment at home. Those who park on the street have even greater difficulty accessing charging at home.

Over the coming year, the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation will research options to increase home charging access for these residents.

UCLA Anderson School of Management M.B.A. students Ross Barney, Annamaria Csontos, Jonathan Um and Nini Wu conducted the yearlong study under the direction of Jeffrey Dubin, adjunct professor of economics and statistics at UCLA Anderson.

The research team worked with the city of Los Angeles and the Clinton Climate Initiative to conduct the study.

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