Who Saved the Electric Car?
03.28.2017 - by Joel Levin
Who Saved the Electric Car?

Last Friday, the California Air Resources Board met in Riverside and unanimously decided to follow the recommendations of its staff to continue the Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) Program as planned, without any changes, through 2025—despite repeats of the old complaints from some in the auto industry that there is no demand for electric cars and that the (very modest) targets would be too hard to reach.

While that might not sound like a big deal, there was a bit of anxiety at Plug In America that we not allow history to repeat itself. Back in 2003, CARB responded to the same complaints from industry by sharply scaling back the program. That decision led to the founding of Plug In America, and the film, “Who Killed the Electric Car?

This time, the politics were really different. More than 600,000 plug in vehicles are now on the streets of the U.S. and nearly 2 million globally. So that helps. A wide range of speakers from around California and the clean car states (that follow California’s tougher auto emissions standards) came out to defend the electric car and encourage CARB to hang tough. The northeast was particularly well-represented with senior-level state representatives from Massachusetts, New York and Connecticut. The California New Car Dealers Association also came out in support.

Plug In America, of course, was there in force. We held an EV rally in front of the meeting with a good selection of cars (including two new Chevy Bolt EVs) and provided coffee, donuts, bumper stickers, and big EV signs for the attendees. One local Plug In America volunteer spoke movingly about how the poor air quality in California had affected her daughter’s health and that had driven her commitment to EVs. We also presented a list of over 115 local elected officials from northeast states who support the ZEV rule. Environment California, Sierra Club, Plug In America, along with  Interfaith Power and Light, Union of Concerned Scientists, American Lung Association of California, CalPIRG, and the Coalition for Clean Air turned in petitions with more than 10,000 signatures in support.

This time, the politics were really different. More than 600,000 plug in vehicles are now on the streets of the U.S. and nearly 2 million globally.

Chair Mary Nichols set the tone for the meeting by starting her comments with a rhetorical poke at the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers request to the Trump Administration for a softening of federal standards, asking “what were you thinking when you threw yourselves on the mercy of the Trump Administration to try to solve your problems” that got her quoted in the New York Times.

So who saved the electric car? This time, we all did. Those who showed up, those who signed petitions and those who voted with their wallets by buying the cars. Will we need to do it again? We might, if the administration follows through on its plans to try and weaken federal standards. So stay tuned.

6 comments on “Who Saved the Electric Car?”
  1. Rod Kuhns says:

    Hi Linda,
    We have met a number of times. I am a friend of Stefano’s. We met more recently at sustainable event held in Manhattan Beach. Hope you’re doing great! Wanted to possibly introduce you to Helix Motors as an important step in what the Etracer was intended to become, but without having low speed stability issues. It offers an important level of needed innovation for better adapting electric vehicles to meet sustainable goals. Please look at Helix Motors and let me know if I can sometime introduce you to its Founder and President – Helen Lee? She also lives in Orange County. BTW, Stefano agreed to be a lead engineer and project adviser. My hope is your background in Plug in America will make this worthwhile in focusing a level of support as an adviser to take the Helix to its next level of meeting success! I have introduced Helen Lee to entering Bloomberg’s Unicorn show and know it will finally take much more crowd appeal to push Helix to the very top and fulfill a place in adding value in our current vehicle hierarchy – along side motorcycles, cars, SUV/CUV and trucks. Best regards, Rod

  2. Robert says:

    If you want to drive completely green switch to a provider with a renewable portfolio like Green Mountain Energy or Clearview Energy or Breeze Energy and Arcadia Power. I’ve been with Green Mountain Energy for over fifteen years. Intend to purchase a Model 3 when the wait time shortens from time of manufacture to time of delivery.

  3. Terry Robb says:

    You guys need to address this video out today from Nick Cardonza about how EVs are polluting the air. I saw the video today and there should be a video out there about pollution from ICE vehicles and how some cities have laws banning ICE vehicles by 2020-2025. There should be a video about all the pollution from extraction, fracking, transportation of crude, refining, transportation of petrol, invasion on or near reservations, pipeline failures, cleanup of spillage, all the leaking ICE vehicles. This Nick guy must be a total uninformed individual who loves ICE vehicles and does not understand that electric motors outperform any gas guzzler engine. Which is why we have electric motors that drive the wheels on locomotives. Steam locomotives are all in the museum which is where all petrol engines need to go. Yes some of the electricity comes from coal fired plants but not all electricity comes from coal. Also there is no pollution in the transmission of electricity in electrical power lines. Also there has been a lot of change to wind and solar because that energy is free and transportation of coal is costly

    1. Linda Nicholes says:

      And don’t forget that an electric motor is at least four times more efficient that an internal combustion engine. This efficiency translates directly to economic benefits as well as much less pollution — no matter what the source of the electric power is. (Though renewables are steadily providing more and more of our power in the U.S. The “coal hard truth” is that coal is becoming history)

  4. Duke Alum says:

    The EV is the only way to go. I plan to replace my two Priuses with Chevy Bolts and i am putting extra solar panels on the roof to charge the cars from home. I also carry a Portable Solar Power Generator to take care of range anxiety and it has 2000 Whr on it to use. If anyone wants those let me know or call me 909 800 0 712 Duke

    1. Judy Dubin says:

      I have a 2002 RavEV with 96,000. Where could I find a portable charger in Los Angeles area?

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