California: The New Frontier for Electric Vehicles

 In Electric Vehicle News

The metropolitan area of Los Angeles and the state of California as a whole are continually ranked as having the worst air quality in the United States. Air quality problems arise from many different sources, but in the Los Angeles area the major contributor is vehicle exhaust.

To rectify this problem the state of California has created many laws, regulations, and programs to reduce vehicle emissions. These solutions are brought forth by the California Air Resource Board (CARB) which is a state run ‘clean air agency’. This is the only agency of its kind in the Country; in fact it is the only one allowed after the federal government passed the Clean Air Act. CARB has implemented many programs that are quickly making California the place to be for electric vehicle enthusiasts. In fact, manufactures like Toyota often use California as an initial launch market for electric vehicles such as this month’s release of the Rav4 Electric. Many state initiatives are leading to a viable electric market including:

Zero Emission Vehicle Program:

California has implemented the zero emission vehicle (ZEV) program aimed at creating a consumer market for electric vehicles. The project mandates manufacturers to produce ZEVs equaling 10% of their vehicle sales by 2018. California accounts for 11% of all vehicle sales in the United States, giving them significant influence over auto manufacturers looking to sell in North America’s largest market. From now until 2018 manufacturers are allowed to manufacture alternative vehicles that give them credits in substitution of actual ZEVs. These alternate vehicles include hybrid and plugin hybrid electric vehicles as well as highly efficient conventional vehicles known as partial zero emission vehicles (PZEV). The project will decrease vehicle costs due to increased production volumes driving down battery and fuel cell costs. The reduction in all around costs will advance the technology and contribute to main stream adoption of ZEVs in California

Heavy-Duty Vehicle Clean Up:

CARB has also been strict on the private sector. Particulate-matter (PM) screening is required on all diesel trucks and buses. The results from this screening process must be reported to CARB to make sure that penalties related to emissions can be applied and to ensure proper equipment is installed and functioning. Alternatively fleet operators can purchase approved hybrid or electric models to avoid the reporting process altogether. CARB is also starting a state wide engine clean up. Beginning January 2015 heavy-duty vehicles will have to be replaced or equipped with an engine model of 2010 or later. All vehicles are expected to comply by 2023.

CARB’s regulations do not only apply to state registered vehicles. The regulations are applicable to any vehicle that will be operating in California. CARB will begin to set up monitoring posts at state entrances and asses penalties and fines to vehicles entering the state that do not meet the requirements.

Incentive Programs:

The U.S Department of Energy currently offers a $7,500 tax credit for approved electric vehicles. This amount is further supplemented with a $2,500 rebate from the state of California; therefore residents of California can lower the cost of an electric vehicle by $10,000. To put this amount in perspective the Nissan Leaf can be purchased for about $34,000 once the rebates are claimed the Nissan Leaf now costs $24,000. This value brings the Leaf into a comparable price range with the Nissan Altima.

Besides cash incentives California offers many more benefits. Electric vehicle owners will be allowed to use carpool lanes even if there is only a single driver. This will give electric vehicle owners faster commute times to and from the office. Furthermore, many large cities in the state are offering free electric vehicle parking, including Sacramento, San Jose, and Santa Monica. The Los Angeles airport (LAX) is also offering free parking, allowing frequent flyers to save on parking fees.

California is rapidly and effectively adopting electric vehicles into their fleets, maybe it’s time to consider them for your fleet as well. FleetCarma can help; we can assess the viability of electric vehicles for your organization or monitor your electric vehicles to track real world performance.

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