California Outlines Zero-Emissions Vehicle Action Plan

By · February 12, 2013

Jerry Brown Sits in UPS EV

California Gov. Jerry Brown sits in one of UPS's new electric delivery trucks. (Via UPS blog.)

California has always been at the forefront of promoting green cars and clean air. The state’s Air Resources Board famously enacted the most aggressive fuel economy standards in the country, which were in no small part responsible for providing the pressure necessary to force the federal government to increase federal corporate average fuel economy standards last year.

With higher overall standards in place, the state has increasingly turned its focus to zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs). Last March, Governor Jerry Brown signed an executive order setting a goal for California to reach 1.5 million ZEVs on its roads by 2025. Last week, the state released details about how it will go about accomplishing that goal.

In its 29-page Zero-Emissions Vehicle Action Plan (PDF), the Governor’s Interagency Working Group on ZEVs laid out four goals for encouraging plug-in vehicle adoption in California: complete needed infrastructure and planning; expand consumer awareness and demand; transform fleets; and grow jobs and investment in the private sector.

By 2020, the state is hoping to have 1 million ZEVs in service on its roads (that number is targeted to increase by an additional 500,000 cars by 2025.) In order to support that growth, the state will seek to “enable universal access to ZEV infrastructure for California drivers.”

That access would be achieved in part by state-funded charging stations (including infrastructure agreed upon as part of a $100 million settlement with utility NRG,) as well as improved coordination and planning. The state would also like to make it easier for drivers to locate and plan charging activity through improved signage and coordination with charge locator software.

The state’s efforts around consumers will be focused on reducing plug-in vehicle costs, outreach, and expanding incentives for drivers. Among the ideas mentioned in the ZEV Action Plan are extending current rebates, considering new measures like eliminating or reducing state sales tax on ZEVs, as well as potentially decoupling the cost of electric vehicle batteries from new vehicles by growing an aftermarket for used batteries.

California will also be contributing to ZEV sales directly. By 2015, the governor has ordered that 10 percent of new state fleet purchases be ZEVs, with that portion increasing to 25 percent by 2020.

Last week, Governor Brown was on hand as UPS announced the purchase of 100 all-electric delivery vehicles manufactured by EVI, which recently relocated its operations from Mexico to Stockton, Calif. The announcement means that UPS currently has the largest electric delivery fleet in the state.

According to UPS, the electric delivery trucks will reduce consumption of fuel by a shocking 126,000 gallons per year. Additional benefits include zero emissions, which is tremendously important in areas of California known to be riddled with smog. The electric trucks boast a range of up to 75 miles and will deliver packages to customers in Sacramento, San Bernardino, Ceres, Fresno and Bakersfield. "These all-electric vehicles remind us that California continues to be a dynamic center of innovation," adds Governor Brown.

California’s Zero-Emissions Vehicle Mandate forces carmakers to sell a small but significant number of plug-in hybrid and fully-electric vehicles in the state each year. This law was largely responsible for temporarily bringing cars like the EV-1 and the original Toyota RAV4 EV to the state in the late 1990s. This time around, California is looking for a significant and permanent electric vehicle presence on its roads that goes beyond a few thousand state-mandated cars. The recently-announced ZEV Action Plan was designed to make sure this becomes a reality.

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