EV-Driving San Francisco Mayor Launches Plug-in Hybrid Demo Project

By · August 25, 2010

Gavin Newsom with Level 2 EV Charging in San Francisco

Mayor Gavin Newsom gives a thumbs-up to the Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid and public Level 2 charging in San Francisco. He inaugurated the demo program by taking the plug-in hybrid for a spin. (Photos by Brad Berman. All rights reserved.)

Mayor Gavin Newsom today announced a partnership between San Francisco and Toyota to give city officials access to two Prius Plug-in Hybrids for the next few months. The demo program will provide real-world plug-in experiences for city employees, and real-world data about driving patterns to Toyota.

Mayor Newsom spoke passionately and eloquently about the importance of bringing plug-in hybrids and electric cars to San Francisco. “This is the game-changing technology that can really impact our oil dependency and our foreign policy as it relates to that dependency. We’ve got to get people out of the old combustion engine vehicles.”

Two public chargers directly across the street from City Hall were upgraded to Level 2 charging to support the demo program. The faster chargers, the first ones ever installed in San Francisco, are capable of providing a full recharge of the Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid in an hour and half. The vehicle can travel electric-only for about 13 miles and at speeds up to about 60 miles per hour. As we have reported, the effective mpg of the Plug-in Prius ranges between about 75 and 100 miles to the gallon. (I managed 87.7 mpg on my 18 mile drive in May.)

The cables on these chargers will stay attached and exposed, making them vulnerable to vandalism. “That’s one of the tests, to see how the charger works in a public curbside setting,” said Bob Hayden, San Francisco’s clean transportation advisor, in an interview with PluginCars.com.

Benefits, Programs and Strategies

Newsom is the rare public official who can speak about electric cars based on personal experience. “I’ve been an early adopter of electric vehicles. I had the EV1 over 10 years ago, when I was a supervisor. I used to drive it to city hall. People thought I was nuts.” Newsom currently owns a Tesla Roadster. He said the public is more accepting now, and that San Francisco will lead the country in EV adoption—the same way that it lead in adoption of conventional hybrids.

Gavin Newsom in front of City Hall and two Plug-in Priuses

Gavin Newsom declared that San Francisco will lead the United States in plug-in car adoption.

Newsom also extolled the virtues of plug-in car economics. “The best thing is when gas goes back to $4 a gallon, you can smile. And you don’t have to wait in line at the gas station, you can plug in at home.”

He outlined additional programs and strategies for pushing a plug-in agenda: building a city-wide grid of free public chargers; preferred parking in city lots; discounts on parking permits; a streamlined permitting process for installation of home charging stations; a planned pilot program—the first in the nation—to demonstrate all-electric taxis; and maybe even a electric car battery swapping program.

Newsom also pointed to the city’s source of electricity as an environmental opportunity. “Electricity production in San Francisco comes from hydroelectric, so it’s completely green,” Newsom said. “It’s another reason why San Francisco has a distinct advantage.”

New to EVs? Start here

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