Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Friendly Fight on the Left Coast

Over the past few months, we've seen a surge of announcements from the mayors of the four largest west coast cities over which city will be the leader in plug-in cars.

In August, Portland's Sam Adams said:

“This is exactly the kind of clean tech investment that Portland, and Oregon, have fought for, “said Mayor Sam Adams. “I have committed to making Portland a national leader in the EV industry, and with Nissan and eTec, we’re able to move our agenda forward.”

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom has challenged Sam Adams over which of their cities will be the nation’s EV capitol.

He also said,

“Electric vehicles have the possibility to transform our economy, revive our car industry, and improve our environment. To make sure electric vehicles succeed this time around we need to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in battery technology and [charging] infrastructure.”

In Seattle, Mayor Greg Nickels, who is arguably the best of the lot when it comes to the environment said,

"I extend an invitation to my fellow mayors to join us. I congratulate Portland and San Francisco for taking major steps to green up their grid while preparing for the electric car revolution. This is an exciting time, and the coming clean energy economy will open up plenty of opportunities for all of our cities to win jobs and investment."

And Mr. "better late than never" Los Angeles Mayor, Villaraigosa, finally joined the group last week at a Bloomberg conference near UCLA saying LA would install 500 charging stations. While this is a good start, it is coming a bit late to the game. Since much of the modern EV movement was birthed from LA companies like AC Propulsion and Aerovironment. you'd think our Mayor would be more engaged. They need to put a team of people together and get busy. There's a lot of work to do.

Which brings me to BYD, the Chinese battery company-turned-EV company. You may recall that Warren Buffett bought 10% of BYD about a year ago. He wants to make Los Angeles the U.S. headquarters for the fast growing EV/PHEV maker. He also sees our city as the most logical starting point to sell his cars.

"BYD Co., the Chinese auto maker part-owned by one of Warren Buffett's companies, is likely to choose the Los Angeles area as the lead market for the electric car it plans to start selling in the U.S. late next year, a senior executive said.
BYD is also leaning toward choosing the West Coast metropolis as home to its U.S. headquarters for the auto business, Henry Li, a BYD senior director in charge of its auto business outside China, said in an interview Wednesday."

All the more reason to get our city ready.



  1. Not to mention LA already has a couple of hundred Mini-E drivers with the charging infrastructure all dialed and are all ready to rock with new cars by June. How about showing us some love Nissan et al?

  2. So what do EVs do to reduce sprawl, congestion, social alienation, the usurpation of all public space for lanes and parking, and the obsession with paving the entire planet, or at least its northern half?

    ZEVs: Methadone for Road Hogs?

  3. First, the Left Coast always leads -- but that doesn't mean those of us in places like Colorado aren't going to be leaping onto the EV express as soon as we can. And, in Colorado, we've got nearly as much sun to solar-charge our EVs as in S. California!

    Second, as an avid and regular biker, I hear what Rick is saying. But I have to say there'll definitely be one improvement for us bikers: Far less toxic exhaust spewing into our lungs as we power away on two wheels. I hate congestion, sprawl, social alienation, etc. as much as the next guy, but much cleaner air for us all -- that's definitely something to celebrate.

  4. Rick,

    We understand what you're saying, but EVs are not meant to reduce congestion, sprawl or social alienation. They are meant to replace polluting cars with non-polluting cars. The additional benefits of keeping more of our energy money domestic and improving our national security are just tasty icing on the cake.

    Your fight should be in the population world. Unsustainable population growth causes all three of the things you mention. EVs don't cause any of them, they merely reduce the harm from what they replace.

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