Electric Vehicles The Race to an EV Future: Being First to an Electric Vehicle Grid

Published on April 29th, 2009 | by Gavin Newsom

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The Race to an EV Future: Being First to an Electric Vehicle Grid

Gavin Newsom EV

Editor’s Note: This is San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom’s second post on electric vehicles for Gas 2.0. It’s a direct response to Portland Mayor Sam Adams, who announced that his city would be the first to develop the charging infrastructure to support full-scale electric vehicle deployment. We expect to hear back from Mayor Adam’s later today – don’t miss it). UPDATE: Mayor Adam’s has posted his response. See video of his declaration to make Portland EV capitol of the US.

As car companies lined up in Washington, DC last November for the first round of federal bailout money – in San Francisco we announced another way – our comprehensive plan to make the San Francisco Bay Area the “Electric Vehicle (EV) Capital of the US.

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Our efforts to advance electric vehicles are not limited to San Francisco. We’ve engaged the entire Bay Area – a region of 7.3 million people – to make our region the cornerstone of the coming market for EVs. Not just governments, but key companies, business associations, policy advocates, and international car and EV infrastructure companies are all working together to make the San Francisco Bay Area the EV Capital of the U.S.

Now our neighbors to the north, Portland are challenging us for EV supremacy. This type of competition symbolizes what is best about our region and our country. If we were able to put a man on the moon, we most certainly can create a new generation of cars that do not run on fossil fuels. We’ve done it before. I owned one of the EV1’s from Saturn in the 1990s. Now EV companies are sprouting up all over the country from Fisker Automotive to Better Place to Bright Automotive.

Portland and San Francisco have been battling for the title of the most sustainable city for years. We welcome Portland’s latest challenge and hope that this EV competition will spread across the country, creating thousands of new jobs and helping establish the United States as an EV leader. In turn this will transform our automotive industry and combat climate change by reducing green house gas emissions.

Since our EV announcement in November we have been working tirelessly on our regional collaborative. Our approach has three different aspects:

1. Government: This effort is comprised of city and county staff from throughout the region (fleet managers, transportation policy directors, etc). This group is sharing information on the current permitting requirements in each jurisdiction, as well as current EV incentives, with an eye toward standardized permitting and incentives for EVs by early 2010. This group, under San Francisco’s leadership, is submitting a regional proposal to the federal government for stimulus funding to implement EV infrastructure throughout the region. We are hopeful that this funding will allows us to break ground on thousands of new EV charging stations throughout the Bay Area.

2. Businesses: Led by the Bay Area Council and Silicon Valley Leadership Group, this group is focused on sharing best practices from companies like Google and making the case to large regional employers to embrace EVs in company fleets and EV chargers for employees.

3. Advocacy: Led by Richard Schorske of the Marin Climate and Energy Partnership this working group will lead an effort this spring to invest over $100M in available state funds annually for alternative vehicles in electric vehicles and not only biofuels.

Through our shared EV goals with Portland and other cities, we’ll bring electric vehicles into the mainstream of American life. In the process, we’ll greatly advance efforts to fight climate change and reinvent our ailing car industry.

We welcome the race to an EV future.

Listen to Mayor Newsom’s Green 960 radio show online or subscribe to his weekly policy discussions on iTunes. This week Mayor Newsom continues the conversation about the future of EVs with the CEO of Better Place, Shai Agassi.  Join Mayor Newsom on Facebook. You can also follow him on Twitter.

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Image Credit: Timothy B. Hurst



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About the Author

was the youngest San Francisco mayor in over a century when he was elected at the age of 41. Newsom, the son of William and Tessa Newsom, grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. He attended Santa Clara University on a partial baseball scholarship, graduating in 1989 with a B.A. in political science. After only 36 days as mayor, Newsom gained worldwide attention when he granted marriage licenses to same-sex couples. This bold move set the tone for Newsom’s first term. Under his energetic leadership, the economy grew and jobs were created. The city became a center for biotech and clean tech. He initiated a plan to bring universal health care to all of the city’s uninsured residents. And Newsom aggressively pursued local solutions to global climate change. In 2007, Newsom was re-elected with over 73% of the vote. Since then he has built upon the successes of his first term, launching new environmental initiatives and a comprehensive strategy to transform one of the city’s most troubled neighborhoods into a life sciences, digital media, and clean tech center.



  • http://www.gridinsight.com/ Gregory Hancock

    Portland has a lot more going on that just electric vehicles. Check out this article: “Portland/Vancouver as alt.energy hub?” (http://www.gridinsight.com/2009/04/portlandvancouver-as-altenergy-hub.html)

  • http://www.gridinsight.com/ Gregory Hancock

    Portland has a lot more going on that just electric vehicles. Check out this article: “Portland/Vancouver as alt.energy hub?” (http://www.gridinsight.com/2009/04/portlandvancouver-as-altenergy-hub.html)

  • Mark

    If you’re passionate about slowing climate change, I just watched some videos that are definitely worth checking out. There was a contest at Tomorrows World’s site and the students who won have their work on show:

    http://www.tomorrowsworldcompetition.com/

    These kids wrote scripts or sent in videos on water efficiency and climate change flooding. Hopefully in the process they’ll make a lot people think about their own water efficiency and carbon footprints.

    Never hurts to put your ideas out there, so let’s encourage them to keep at it. Give them a view and spread the word!

  • Mark

    If you’re passionate about slowing climate change, I just watched some videos that are definitely worth checking out. There was a contest at Tomorrows World’s site and the students who won have their work on show:

    http://www.tomorrowsworldcompetition.com/

    These kids wrote scripts or sent in videos on water efficiency and climate change flooding. Hopefully in the process they’ll make a lot people think about their own water efficiency and carbon footprints.

    Never hurts to put your ideas out there, so let’s encourage them to keep at it. Give them a view and spread the word!

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  • H. Schmerdtz

    Newsome’s prognostications, most of what he says, in fact, should be carefully scrutinized. Gavin is first and foremost a political animal, a politician who at the moment is jockeying for a run as California governor. For example, he claims he “owned” a GM EV 1, but EV 1’s were never sold to the public. General Motors leased them to a small group of test market participants, then, sadly, recalled and scrapped them. Secondly, much of what Newsome promises to make happen, is actually produced by private sector entrepreneurs with little or no creative role played by government, whether vehicle, battery, hydrogen fuel cell storage including the recharging/refueling technology needed. Note that Newsome proposes thousands of federally funded recharging stations; apparently he sees no role for private enterprise in creating an EV re-charge/fuel infrastructure, but is it appropriate for the Mayor and the city to socialize these new “gas” stations? California government has an abysmal track record when it comes to selecting and implementing new tech, rather than letting them be market-driven. Bay Area citizens and voters should themselves decide how we transition to an EV infrastructure, whether it is appropriate public policy for government to own and control vehicle refueling or recharging. I think small business, not government monopoly, is better suited but that is a question to be decided through the democratic process. Think of this as a Windows vs. Linux discussion: single-source vs. open source; Newsome only brings government’s viewpoint to the table.

  • H. Schmerdtz

    Newsome’s prognostications, most of what he says, in fact, should be carefully scrutinized. Gavin is first and foremost a political animal, a politician who at the moment is jockeying for a run as California governor. For example, he claims he “owned” a GM EV 1, but EV 1’s were never sold to the public. General Motors leased them to a small group of test market participants, then, sadly, recalled and scrapped them. Secondly, much of what Newsome promises to make happen, is actually produced by private sector entrepreneurs with little or no creative role played by government, whether vehicle, battery, hydrogen fuel cell storage including the recharging/refueling technology needed. Note that Newsome proposes thousands of federally funded recharging stations; apparently he sees no role for private enterprise in creating an EV re-charge/fuel infrastructure, but is it appropriate for the Mayor and the city to socialize these new “gas” stations? California government has an abysmal track record when it comes to selecting and implementing new tech, rather than letting them be market-driven. Bay Area citizens and voters should themselves decide how we transition to an EV infrastructure, whether it is appropriate public policy for government to own and control vehicle refueling or recharging. I think small business, not government monopoly, is better suited but that is a question to be decided through the democratic process. Think of this as a Windows vs. Linux discussion: single-source vs. open source; Newsome only brings government’s viewpoint to the table.

  • http://greenoptions.com Clayton B. Cornell

    @H. Schmerdtz: It’s going to take a combination of Government policy and private sector entrepreneurship to make EV infrastructure a reality. Not sure why you don’t think space has been made here for the latter – San Francisco has partnered with Better Place and has installed charge points from Coulomb Tech outside city hall.

    Check back on Monday for an industry viewpoint. We’ll be having Richard Lowenthal, CEO of Coulomb Tech, posting on this blog.

  • http://greenoptions.com Clayton B. Cornell

    @H. Schmerdtz: It’s going to take a combination of Government policy and private sector entrepreneurship to make EV infrastructure a reality. Not sure why you don’t think space has been made here for the latter – San Francisco has partnered with Better Place and has installed charge points from Coulomb Tech outside city hall.

    Check back on Monday for an industry viewpoint. We’ll be having Richard Lowenthal, CEO of Coulomb Tech, posting on this blog.

  • H. T. Schmerdtz

    Clayton B. Cornell: Why I don’t think there is space for the private sector in this process? You answered your own question when you pointed out San Francisco has installed charge points for CITY cars, outside CITY hall. Nothing private about any of that. Government is always among early adopters, because they have deep pockets and lack the fiscal limitations of the marketplace, but for e-power to gain traction, (sorry), we’ll need buy-in from consumers and producers in the real-world marketplace.

    In the piece above, Newsome mentions a city/county task force requesting federal “stimulus” funds toward EV charging infrastructure, but the irony here is that with the exception of just 3%, (federal budget office supplied that number), Obama’s stimulus package funds government: state, federal, programs, schools, and a host of other government-to-government projects and bailouts. There is virtually no small business or private enterprise funds in the so-called stimulus package. Given Gavin’s conventionalist record and the federal stimulus package’s entitlement focus, that e-stations will be government owned or operated is a foregone conclusion. But unless the changeover is market owned and market driven, full public acceptance will not take place, just like here in San Luis Obispo. The City and County’s role is to streamline the zoning and permit process and offer enough permanent financial incentives to motivate private investors to develop a network of e-stations large enough to create consumer comfort. Nobody likes to get stranded. Once consumers realize charging stations are convenient and affordable, then e-vehicles will make a significant market penetration.

  • H. T. Schmerdtz

    Clayton B. Cornell: Why I don’t think there is space for the private sector in this process? You answered your own question when you pointed out San Francisco has installed charge points for CITY cars, outside CITY hall. Nothing private about any of that. Government is always among early adopters, because they have deep pockets and lack the fiscal limitations of the marketplace, but for e-power to gain traction, (sorry), we’ll need buy-in from consumers and producers in the real-world marketplace.

    In the piece above, Newsome mentions a city/county task force requesting federal “stimulus” funds toward EV charging infrastructure, but the irony here is that with the exception of just 3%, (federal budget office supplied that number), Obama’s stimulus package funds government: state, federal, programs, schools, and a host of other government-to-government projects and bailouts. There is virtually no small business or private enterprise funds in the so-called stimulus package. Given Gavin’s conventionalist record and the federal stimulus package’s entitlement focus, that e-stations will be government owned or operated is a foregone conclusion. But unless the changeover is market owned and market driven, full public acceptance will not take place, just like here in San Luis Obispo. The City and County’s role is to streamline the zoning and permit process and offer enough permanent financial incentives to motivate private investors to develop a network of e-stations large enough to create consumer comfort. Nobody likes to get stranded. Once consumers realize charging stations are convenient and affordable, then e-vehicles will make a significant market penetration.

  • http://greenoptions.com Clayton B. Cornell

    As far as I understood the chargepoints were also being used for the few plug-in hybrids in Zipcar’s fleet. They are being borrowed from the private sector, ie Coulomb Technologies.

    Read it from the source, CEO Richard Lowenthal: http://gas2.org/2009/05/04/being-smart-about-your-electric-vehicle-infrastructure/

  • http://greenoptions.com Clayton B. Cornell

    As far as I understood the chargepoints were also being used for the few plug-in hybrids in Zipcar’s fleet. They are being borrowed from the private sector, ie Coulomb Technologies.

    Read it from the source, CEO Richard Lowenthal: http://gas2.org/2009/05/04/being-smart-about-your-electric-vehicle-infrastructure/

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  • http://www.kortechradiators.com Kor Tech

    KorTech radiators is a manufacturer of Heat Exchange related items in copper and Brass specially radiators for various applications like Trucks Radiators, Tractors Radiators, Cars Radiators, Earthmoving Vehicle.

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  • http://m4atomp3converter.org/ Kelly

    I agree that we need to make the San Francisco Bay Area the EV Capital of the U.S This will increase our income.

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