Charge Ahead California Aims to Put Million Electric Vehicles on Road


Switching to electricity to fuel our vehicle fleet is critical to meeting the state’s clean air, climate and energy goals. That's why NRDC is eager to partner with a diverse coalition of community-based, public health, science and conservation groups across the state to launch a campaign, called Charge Ahead California.

The goal of our campaign is to put one million electric cars, trucks and buses on the road within ten years. The campaign will focus on directing current polluter fees on oil companies to fund existing, highly successful purchase incentive programs and to increase access to zero-emission transportation in disadvantaged communities.

Switching to electricity will also keep more transportation dollars in-state, boosting the economy and creating new jobs. Cars and trucks account for 34 percent of smog-forming and soot pollution. California currently sends $40 billion a year out-of-state to import oil. Electrification can avoid $13 billion in annual health and other societal costs and create up to 100,000 jobs by 2030.

The campaign includes the American Lung Association in California, CALPIRG, Coalition for Clean Air, Communities for a Better Environment, Environment California Research & Policy Center, The Greenlining Institute, Sierra Club California, and the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Below are my remarks at our launch event in downtown Los Angeles:


Today, California stands at critical juncture in its clean air and clean energy future. With the electric vehicle market at a tipping point, we have the opportunity to charge ahead towards cleaner air, greater prosperity and an oil-free future.

California is in the driver’s seat in accelerating the electric vehicle market, across the country and across the globe. California is the world’s 9th largest economy, and is, by far, the largest single electric car market in the country.  Californians buy more electric cars than the next twelve states combined.

Simply put, what California does, matters.  Just like California has done in the past with catalytic converters, unleaded gasoline and solar energy, we can once again, change the world when it comes to electric vehicles.  As California goes, so goes the nation, and indeed the world.

Job number one for California is to jump start the mass market by extending the current purchase incentives to put one million electric cars, trucks and buses on the road within 10 years.  We must also better target these incentives and other policies so that communities hardest hit by pollution and the high cost of gasoline can better benefit from electrification.

Funding this transition will be a smart investment for the state because it will pay for itself many times over in avoided health care and fuels costs. Electrifying our cars and trucks can avoid $13 billion in health, climate and other societal damages annually.

And because electricity is equivalent to paying just $1 per gallon of gasoline, electrification will provide a powerful economic stimulus by putting more money in the pockets of drivers and reducing the need to import oil. Spending a dollar on electrification creates 16 times more jobs than a dollar spent on gasoline and creates up to 100,000 new jobs by 2030

California has always been about inventing the future.  It now must seize this critical opportunity to move beyond oil so that all Californians can enjoy a healthier, more prosperous future.