Prop Zero
The Starting Point for Commentary and Coverage of California Politics

Football's Not the Only Thing That Has San Diego Charging

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Scott Budman

    Regardless of what side of the global warming issue you take, the push for clean, renewable energy is gaining momentum in the auto industry.  Turns out Southern California is at the tip of the spear. 

    But as we sit here today would you really want to trade your gas burning car or truck in for one that runs on electricity?

    Horsepower and torque in our cars are of subjective importance. While one motorist might prefer the extra power they get in traffic from their traditional vehicles, another might be ready to sacrifice power for a more environmentally friendly rig. For those who would go the electric route the benefits don't end there.

    Prices at the pump are well over $3 a gallon and the The U.S. government is offering incentives in the form of tax credits of anywhere from $2,500 to $7,500 on the purchase of a new electrical vehicle. Seems like a good way to tell the big oil companies just what they can do with their big oil.

    With two new electric vehicles set to hit the market at the end of the year, San Diego county is taking the lead by putting an infrastructure in place to support their safe, efficient operation. On Tuesday the county announced the planned installation of more than 1,500 public charging stations.  Backed by a grant of more than $98 million from the U.S. Department of Energy, San Francisco based ECOtality is taking the lead on what's known as the EV project.  

    Electric batteries, like gas tanks, have finite capacities and need to be replenished on a regular basis. Gas stations are everywhere, but when was the last time you saw an electric car charging station?

    The new Nissan Leaf is fully electric and has a range of only about 100 miles.  It's competitor, the Chevrolet Volt can go 40 miles on the battery before a gas motor kicks in to give it up to 300 more.  The range issue is a problem and it's one of the lead topics of the EV project.

    Believe it or not, a medical term has already been coined to describe the fear of your electric car running out of juice and leaving you stranded.  It's called "range anxiety."

    James Boyd, vice chair of the California Energy Commission predicts 1 million electric cars on the state's highways within the next 10 years.  Numbers like that won't be reached without a large number of public charging stations made readily available to the public.  The EV project will collect data on how the vehicles, batteries and chargers perform in various climates and geographies. That information should translate to more efficient ways to keep electric vehicles charged in efficient, convenient ways.

    The electric cars are coming and so are the charging stations that will power them.  Automakers will have to be patient as the public gradually embraces the new means and methods they'll have to adapt to. 

    In San Diego marketing for the new Nissan product might be a challenge.  Since the late 90's San Diegans don't typically react well to things named "Leaf."