Social Innovation: First California Electric Vehicle Survey Shows Benefits


The California Center for Sustainable Energy, with the California Air Resources Board, has conducted the largest social innovation plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) owner survey in the state’s history. Recording date from more than 2,500 Californian PEV owners, the results have been released. The survey shows that nine out of ten owners said these vehicles represent their primary car though almost all had a second, conventional car. The results reflect new strides toward greater adoption of zero-emission personal vehicles; owners drive their cars an average of 26 miles per day and charge their vehicles primarily at night. This type of data is invaluable to the American auto industry and government policy in further developing the market and infrastructure for electric vehicles.

This survey highlights the state’s commitment to promoting clean transportation solutions that improve urban air quality, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and offer its consumers viable alternatives to conventional gas vehicles. California is firmly establishing itself as a national and worldwide leader in social innovation and zero-emission automotive transportation. Californians own more than 12,000 PEVs, roughly 35% of all such vehicles in the U.S. Moreover, since July 2012, approximately 1,000 new PEVs are being sold in the state every month.

These vehicles are reducing California’s demand for oil and have become a key component of the state’s goals for greening its car fleet. It recently set a goal of 1.5 million zero-emission vehicles (electric and hydrogen-powered) by 2025. Mike Ferry, transportation programs manager for the Energy Center, says, “These aren’t hobby cars, these aren’t weekend cars. They are everyday use cars.”

The state’s Clean Vehicle Rebate Project provides an incentive through a rebate of $2,500 on pure-battery electrics like the Nissan Leaf, or $1,500 for plug-in hybrids like the Chevy Volt or plug-in Toyota Prius. However, there are still obstacles in the way to make it easy for people to own and use. Large batteries and other social innovation technology make PEVs more expensive than their gasoline power equivalents; potential owners need to weigh the initial investment against the payoff from lower fuel costs combined with government incentives.

Together with the state’s clean electricity grid, the growing number of PEVs in California are a cornerstone of the state’s transportation and energy future, and represents the highly successful first wave of adoption that is expected to lead to more than one million electric vehicles on California’s roads over the next decade. Overall, a new generation of these types of social innovation cars is being deployed across America, thanks to aggressive federal fuel efficiency standards, public subsidies and consumer demand for clean vehicles.

Article by Sangeeta Haindl of Justmeans, appearing courtesy 3BL Media.

About Author

Walter’s contributions to CleanTechies over the past 4 years have been instrumental in growing the publications social media channels via his ongoing editorial and data driven strategies. He is the founder and managing director of Sunflower Tax, a renewable energy tax and finance consultancy based in San Diego, California. Active in the San Diego clean technology community, participating in events sponsored by CleanTech San Diego, EcoTopics, and Cleantech Open San Diego, Walter has also been a presenter at numerous California Center for Sustainability (CCSE) programs. He currently serves as an adjunct professor at the University of San Diego School of Law where he teaches a course on energy taxation and policy.

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