The San Diego Region is Plugged In with Electric Vehicles
The idea of driving a plug-in electric vehicle (EV) may seem futuristic to the average American. But that’s just not so here in tech-savvy San Diego where we have one of the nation’s highest levels of EV drivers per capita. In fact, the San Diego region just hit a milestone of 10,000 plug-in EVs on our roads with EV sales and leases up 130 percent over last year.
And the state of California recently hit a high-water mark selling or leasing over 100,000 since market launched in December 2010, solidifying its place as the global leader for driving clean plug-in EVs. To put those statistics into context, there have only been 238,000 highway-legal plug-in EVs sold in the U.S. through July 2014(i). There is still a lot of room for growth, and increased efforts are needed beyond these milestones to meet the governor’s goals of building infrastructure to support one million zero emission vehicles by 2020, and putting 1.5 million zero emission vehicles on California roads by 2025.
This exciting news underscores the fact that we have an enormous opportunity ahead of us as a region and state to grow the EV and charging infrastructure markets, and through collaborative efforts we will be able to help reach the governor’s goal. In the midst of the market finding its way and seeing many successes, we have found that one obstacle to the adoption of EVs has been the lack of infrastructure and the corresponding range anxiety. As a result, we are committed to working with the state regulators and stakeholders to ensure this issue is addressed as expeditiously as possible. There are still many issues that must be resolved on the way to achieving our state’s goals for a cleaner future and making EVs the clear choice for consumers.
The San Diego region in particular is a great market for EVs – and not just because of our reputation for being high-tech. Perfectly mild and temperate weather year-round, combined with a moderate average commuting distance of 25 miles that is well-suited for the battery range of EVs, make the county an ideal environment for EV adoption. Additionally, the public-private collaboration known as Smart City San Diego with entities such as San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), CleanTECH San Diego, GE, UC San Diego and the City of San Diego helps catalyze EV growth in the region. For example, Smart City San Diego launched a solar-to-EV charging facility, with energy storage capabilities at the San Diego Zoo in late 2012. The clean energy produced there is equivalent to removing 189,216 pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year, or the same as planting 2,788 trees annually or removing 21 cars from the road.
Federal tax credits and state rebates totaling up to $10,000 are available to EV-driving San Diegans, which makes purchasing an EV a cost-effective choice. Additionally, SDG&E offers EV drivers a special low electricity rate when they charge their cars at night during system off-peak hours (visit sdge.com/ev for more information). This incentivizes EV drivers to charge their vehicles during times of day when system capacity on the electric grid is plentiful and lower cost energy is available.
There are approximately 600 publicly accessible charging stations throughout the county. For consumers who want to drive an EV without owning one, San Diego launched the first all-electric car-sharing program car2go, which now has more than 380 vehicles serving San Diego, Chula Vista and San Diego State University. For those who want to buy or lease, there is an EV for every lifestyle with more than 20 models on the market. Perhaps a favorite perk is that EV owners can drive solo in the carpool lane, which can be a relief during frustrating rush hour traffic.
It is clear that here in San Diego, EVs are simply a smart solution that’s fun to drive and costs less to fuel and to own. And, breaking over 100,000 in EV sales across the state feels really good but we’ve got a long way to go in getting the word out about these great cars. Leading the way, however, are the San Diegans who are driving the auto market and California toward a cleaner future.
–By: James P. Avery, senior vice president, power supply for San Diego Gas & Electric and Jason Anderson, president of Cleantech San Diego
(i) Jeff Cobb (2014-01-16) “Top 6 Plug-In Vehicle Adopting Countries”. HybridCars.com. Retrieved 2014-01-18. Over 172,000 highway-capable passenger vehicles have been sold in the U.S. between 2008 and December 2013. Jeff Cobb (2014-08-04). “July 2014 Dashboard”. HybridCars.com and Baum & Associates. Retrieved 2014-08-05. A total of 66,206 plug-in electric cars were sold during the first seven months of 2014, consisting of 31,337 all-electric cars and 34,869 plug-in hybrids. See sections: “U.S. Battery Electric sales for July 2014” and “U.S. Plug-in Hybrid sales for July 2014”