A parking area for electric vehicles is photogaphed at Bishop Ranch on Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017, in San Ramon, Calif. (Aric Crabb/Bay Area News Group)

In summary

Transportation is responsible for 50 percent of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions and 80 percent of smog-forming pollutants. To tackle this challenge, we must rapidly accelerate the transition to electric vehicles.

Would you please fill out this 3-minute survey about our service? Your feedback will help us improve CalMatters.

By David Hochschild and Giovanni Palazzo

David Hochschild is a California Energy Commission member and chairman of Veloz, David.hochschild@energy.ca.gov. Giovanni Palazzo is president and chief executive officer of Electrify America, and a Veloz board member, Giovanni.Palazzo@electrifyamerica.com. They wrote this commentary for CALmatters.

For humanity to enjoy a livable planet, an unprecedented effort is needed to tackle climate change.

That’s the message of the United Nations’ new Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’ report.

In almost every respect, California is demonstrating global leadership. We have bold policies requiring that the electric grid become powered by 100 percent clean energy by 2045 and all new homes must be built with solar panels starting in 2020, and we have the nation’s strictest energy efficiency standards.

But there is a missing piece of the puzzle in California’s clean energy mosaic: Transportation emissions are rising.

Transportation is responsible for 50 percent of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions and 80 percent of smog-forming pollutants. To tackle this challenge, we must rapidly accelerate the transition to electric vehicles.

No fewer than 44 models of zero-emission vehicles are available. California sales of electric vehicles make up nearly half of all EV sales in the nation. And yet three out of four Californians have never been inside an electric vehicle.

We need a robust public-private collaboration to bring about the change we need. And we have started:

  • Veloz is a non-profit partnership formed to increase public awareness of electric vehicles.
  • Electrify America is a new company dedicated to promoting electric vehicles and building a nationwide charging network.

Backed by Electrify America and an unprecedented alliance of utilities, automakers, public agencies, and environmental groups, Veloz has launched the “Electric For All” campaign. You’ll be hearing more about it soon. But it’s a statewide effort to reach people through various media to send the message that electric cars are here now.

It is coordinated with the nationwide “Jet-stones” advertising campaign focused on communicating the appeal of driving EVs.

To address the availability and speed of electric vehicle charging, Electrify America is investing $800 million in California’s electric vehicle infrastructure, education, and access in the coming decade.

The company has started building an ultra-fast network of consumer-friendly charging stations along highways, at retail locations and in California’s largest EV markets.

Recently, the company announced new plans to expand charging in metro areas and regional routes in the state, and for residences and zero-emission buses, shuttles and ride-hailing services. This plan can move us further toward bringing “Electric For All” and is worthy of support.

Ultra-fast charging should be a game changer for EV adoption. Vehicles will be able to refuel at up to 20 miles of range per minute. In just 10 minutes, an electric vehicle could recharge for a 200-mile trip. That’s the equivalent of filling up a gas tank with fossil fuel while saving consumers money.

Charging stations will be in areas that are convenient, making the experience of using electric vehicles hassle-free, and giving people confidence that an EV can be their primary – or only – car.

We intend to help reduce barriers to electric vehicle adoption. But Californians must take some responsibility.

If you haven’t tried an electric vehicle, check one out, and keep your eyes peeled for those new chargers at your local retailer or along the highway on your next trip. Together, we can transition to a clean transportation future. Once again, California can lead the nation by showing the world that the future of transportation is “Electric For All.”

We want to hear from you

Want to submit a guest commentary or reaction to an article we wrote? You can find our submission guidelines here. Please contact Gary Reed with any commentary questions: gary@calmatters.org, (916) 234-3081.