The Future of Electric Vehicles in CA

The BERC-E community met for the first time in 2015 to talk about the recent progress of California’s Electric Vehicle program.  Some fairly ambitious yet necessary goals were set in a 2012 executive order from Governor Brown, mandating for California to have 1.5 million zero-emission vehicles by 2025 and for statewide green house gas emissions in 2050 to be reduced by 80% below 1990 levels. To meet these goals some interesting battles have resulted between the big three California utility companies and the California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) over how to reduce issues like range anxiety and allocating rebates for third-parties to install charging stations all over the state.

While California led last year’s EV adoption, several have questioned whether the trends will be able to continue without further policy incentives – especially when considering that the California rebate for plug-in hybrid and battery-EV are currently the same as for Texas, a state where Elon Musk was rejected from selling cars directly to customers back in 2013, due to the local strength of car dealerships lobby (if you haven’t seen the size of the Texas flags displayed at car dealerships in Texas – you would be extremely impressed).

 

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We had a little fun talking about the “trends” being cited in a recent article that seems to insinuate that the past two months of data can be extrapolated to predict a negative amount of rebates to be sold in California in February. Jokes aside, while the article made some interesting assertions about focal points for improving vehicle adoption we find it hard to believe that California is truly facing a radical downward spiral for electric vehicle adoption. It is just too early to tell.

 

Beyond the policy discussion, we also spoke some about the progress of vehicle-to-grid programs and highlighted some of the basic drawbacks in the frequent cycling of batteries and how they weigh up against the potential to act as a fall back for managing power-demand from intermittent resources like solar in peak hours.

 

Many of the BERC-E members do research on materials and processes that are at the cutting edge of the green space and our bimonthly meetings allow for us to  convene and discuss issues we have encountered in research as well as learn about the current state of policy and government in the green space. We welcome any others interested in the intersection of science, innovation and green tech to come hang out with the BERC-engineers for some pizza! For more information click here: http://berc.berkeley.edu/programs/berc-communities/berc-e-berc-engineers/