At This Critical Moment, California Will Be Ready

This morning, I was a part of an unusual alliance of stakeholders that announced a plan concerning California’s preparedness for the adoption of electric vehicles. Stakeholders include automakers, utilities, charging service providers, legislators, regulators, manufacturers,health and environmental organizations. Our message is simple: At this critical moment, California will be ready. 

This announcement comes two days after the first Nissan LEAF was delivered to an individual in California. This is a historic moment for electric vehicles in the United States, and could possibly mark the beginning of the end for the conventional internal combustion engine. (See my last post for more on this.)

This morning’s plan, released by the California Plug-In Electric Vehicle Collaborative is called “Taking Charge: Establishing California Leadership in the Plug-In Electric Vehicle Marketplace” It is designed to capitalize on the opportunities and prepare for the challenges associated with the release of affordable, mass-produced electric vehicles, especially the Nissan LEAF and Chevy Volt. We need to make sure California is ready for the power demands, so that the first consumer experience is a positive one.

Already California is the biggest market for electric vehicles – a market that is expected to grow dramatically. Over the course of the coming year, forecasts predict 30,000 Nissan LEAFs and Chevrolet Volts will be sold in the US. In the long term, expectations are bullish: California expects to have on the road up to 1 million electric vehicles by 2020. That represents a substantial shift and the first real challenge to the dominance of the internal combustion engine.

Automakers are targeting California as an early market for EVs because of its history of high tech innovation, its progressive, eager consumer base, and for its clean grid. However, it is not without its challenges.

Each car, when plugged in, can draw as much energy as a small house. If EVs are to progress from early adopters to mainstream acceptance, the next few months are critical: the rest of the country will be looking at California to demonstrate that the adoption of EVs is easy, clean and safe. A positive first impression is essential.

Today’s announcement focused on just that. It proves that California has the leadership, the preparedness and the resources to be a model market for long-term, national success.

Leadership and coordination will be critical moving forward. With leaders from auto manufacturers, key government agencies, the private sector and NGOs, showed California’s commitment to continued leadership on electric vehicles. The state is serious about coordinating its leadership.

They are also serious about ensuring the first consumer experience is a positive one. As I’ve said, first impression will be critical. If the nation is to adopt EV technology en masse, it will likely to do so only if the experience in California is reliable, safe and easy.  This plan helps make sure that’s the case.

With all eyes once again turning to California, today’s announcement is shows the world that we are doing what we need to do.