What California needs to do about electric cars (hint: more)

Sep 12, 2012 by Ethan Elkind

The environmental law centers at UCLA and UC Berkeley Schools of Law today released a new report on industry actions and federal, state, and local policies needed to stimulate long-term, mass adoption of electric vehicles.  "Electric Drive by '25″ (available from either UCLA Law or Berkeley Law) is the tenth report in our Climate Change and Business Research Initiative, funded by Bank of America.

Please join me and my UC colleagues today, either in person or via webcast, for a noon (ET) briefing on the report on in Washington, DC, sponsored by Congressman Henry Waxman. A panel discussion with electric vehicle and experts will follow. Registration and webcast access is available here.

Electric vehicle technology is crucial for meeting California's environmental and energy goals, given that fossil fuel-burning engines contribute almost 40 percent of the state's greenhouse gas emissions and that advancements in battery technology have the potential to revolutionize how we integrate and store variable renewable energy. The technology can also boost California's and the nation's economy by allowing drivers to benefit from domestically produced fuel (in the form of electricity), while many of the electric vehicle manufacturers, charging companies, and component suppliers are based in California.

Electric Drive by '25 resulted from a stakeholder gathering that included automakers, electric utilities, charging companies, advocates, and public agency officials. Based on their input, the report finds that the critical long-term challenges to mass consumer adoption are a lack of consumer awareness about the vehicles and their performance, high upfront costs and limited battery range of certain models, and concerns about the adequacy of the public charging network and related infrastructure.

To address these challenges, the report recommends that industry and policy makers educate consumers about the vehicles and their performance through a concerted and sustained outreach campaign, lower the upfront costs of the vehicles through reduced taxes and fees and continued rebates, and plan for and facilitate deployment of an efficient and easy-to-use charging infrastructure.

With electric vehicle sales of the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt already outpacing conventional hybrid sales at a similar point in their history, and with all the major automakers planning to introduce plug-in models, the future looks bright for the technology. But policy makers and industry should continue to take steps now to ensure that an electric drive will be the norm across California and the nation by 2025.

Explore further: Tesla Motors dealing as states play factory poker

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User comments : 13

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PPihkala
1 / 5 (2) Sep 12, 2012
I think that the needed change to break the gasoline engine reign is to introduce electric cars with onboard charger using LENR technology. That will result much smaller batteries, bringing down the price. It might be so that electricity is not needed between LENR and wheels, but time will tell if that will be the case.
unknownorgin
1.2 / 5 (5) Sep 12, 2012
I have some solar panels and it would be good to have an electric car with batterys that would last 20 years because they are expensive to replace but batterys wear out and electric cars are not in the budget for most people. There is a nasty suprise waiting for people in california who have electric cars, You will be required to install a GPS unit in your car that tells the state how many miles you have driven and you be taxed per mile and this is the plan going around the state capital right now.
Vendicar Dickarian
1.7 / 5 (6) Sep 12, 2012
I continue to be skeptical about the "green" advantages of electric cars. In my state, while there is some nuclear power, the majority of electricity to charge these vehicles will come from burning...wait for it...COAL! So, I'd like someone to explain how replacing gasoline burning engines with coal burning engines achieves some sort of breakthrough.
Modern Marvel Fan
3.5 / 5 (2) Sep 13, 2012
"COAL! So, I'd like someone to explain how replacing gasoline burning engines with coal burning engines achieves some sort of breakthrough"

B/c electric vehicle ALLOW you to install solar on your roof so you can offset your source of electricity where gas cars can NOT.

AND, even if it is from coal based power plants, it is still more "efficient" than a gas car. Also, coal based power plants are on decline.

Also, you can always move to a state where there is FAR LESS coal and then install solar on your roof...
Eikka
2.6 / 5 (5) Sep 13, 2012
To address these challenges, the report recommends that industry and policy makers educate consumers about the vehicles and their performance through a concerted and sustained outreach campaign, lower the upfront costs of the vehicles through reduced taxes and fees and continued rebates


In other words: "Don't attempt to fix what's lacking in electric vehicles, simply give them a positive PR spin and hide the real cost with subsidies from taxpayer money."

It's a tried and true tactic that worked beautifully for other new and green things, like corn ethanol. If you subsidize it into production, all the problems will just magically dissapear, and you won't be left with a multi-billion dollar industry that can't survive without the subsidies and tax incentives, and won't be obsoleted by better technology.
Eikka
2.3 / 5 (3) Sep 13, 2012
What california really needs is methane fuel cell plug-in hybrid vehicles.

You charge at home and fill up on the go: no need for special electric charging infrastructure. Charging at home saves you 90% of the fuel you use on average, and refueling at service stations lets you travel without getting stranded. The remaining 10% of fuel consumption can be initially covered by natural gas, which emits half the CO2 compared to gasoline, and gradually be replaced by biogas or synthetic methane made with sunlight.

This is the future. Not simple battery electric vehicles that will always be limited and constrained by big aging batteries and slow charging rates due to practical limitations in power transfer.

When you lift a 10kg canister of camping gas into your car, or fill its tank through a hose, you're transferring energy at the rate of several megawatts. No practical electric charging system can beat that in speed and convenience.
geokstr
1.4 / 5 (9) Sep 13, 2012
B/c electric vehicle ALLOW you to install solar on your roof so you can offset your source of electricity where gas cars can NOT.


Yes, I've already noted here that the new Chevy Volt, although the weight has increased 20% to allow for all the asbestos fireproofing, will offer as options not only solar cell paint in your choice of white or white, and a rooftop windmill, which will also be painted in solar cell white (or white, if you prefer.)

These highly sought after options will be offered for only $10,000 each, offset by a tax credit of $500, allowing you to recoup the added costs in just the first three hundred years you own your new Volt.

Vendicar Dickarian
1.8 / 5 (5) Sep 15, 2012
B/c electric vehicle ALLOW you ...
AND, even if it is from coal based power plants, it is still more "efficient" than a gas car. Also, coal based power plants are on decline.

Also, you can always move to a state where there is FAR LESS coal and then install solar on your roof...


Hmmm....lots of spurious claims and and off-the-wall ideas here. Not much that's pragmatic, realistic, or accurate.

First, you can install solar power on your roof regardless of whether you own an electric or gas vehicle. This is neither a practical reality for most people nor is it an efficient, cost-effective system as of now.

Second, plz provide proof that coal is more "efficient" than gas. Nice try.

Finally, moving to another state? ALL states in the U.S. burn coal. And moving is not a realistic option for everyone. Nor for most of us.

Your analysis fails. Anyone have a REAL reason why electric cars aren't just hype?
VendicarD
3.7 / 5 (3) Sep 15, 2012
It will take some time for the transition to electric vehicles for the same reasons that many Americans still haven't adopted CF lighting.

It is a combination of stupidity, sloth, cost, and some practical differences between the two competing choices.

Those manufacturers who are targeting the Luxury car market with battery powered vehicles, will probably fail.

Those who produce practical models that are lower priced and designed for trips around town will probably succeed.

bertibus
1 / 5 (2) Sep 17, 2012
As far as electric cars go (pun intended), they'll sell in vast numbers when batteries advance to the point where they allow for cars that are cost-effective, convenient to charge, and provide decent range. Not before, not after.
Eikka
1 / 5 (2) Sep 21, 2012
same reasons that many Americans still haven't adopted CF lighting.


I adopted CF lighting, found it wanting and went back to halogen lights after paying a whole lot of money for a lot of nothing.

I use fluorescent tubes that are more efficient and offer better quality of light at a lower price than CFLs for general lighting where applicable, and I use 75 and 105 Watt halogen incandescent bulbs where I spend my time and read and work, because they offer superior quality of light, and also in places like the bathroom where CFLs are quickly broken down.

Too bad these things too will get banned as well when they tighten the regulations even further, and I'll have to adopt LED lighting which is even worse in quality than CFL. A recent EU testing reviewed 168 different LED bulbs and flunked 139 of them for being too poor in quality to even be allowed on the market.
Vendicar Dickarian
1 / 5 (3) Sep 22, 2012
It will take some time for the transition to electric vehicles for the same reasons that many Americans still haven't adopted CF lighting.

It is a combination of stupidity, sloth, cost, and some practical differences between the two competing choices.

Those manufacturers who are targeting the Luxury car market with battery powered vehicles, will probably fail.

Those who produce practical models that are lower priced and designed for trips around town will probably succeed.



Well, that and the fact that the CF actually suck balls. And that's the technically accurate term for just how awful they are. Never mind the mercury poisoning should your kids bust one and try to sweep it up so Dad doesn't know.

But, back to the electric cars, can anyone at all provide a single shred of evidence that they are not ultimately MORE polluting than gas powered vehicles. I mean, besides liberal claptrap. Actual scientific evidence. Didn't think so.
BuddyEbsen
1 / 5 (1) Oct 02, 2012