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A New Shade of Green

By Sherry Listgarten

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About this blog: Climate change, despite its outsized impact on the planet, is still an abstract concept to many of us. That needs to change. My hope is that readers of this blog will develop a better understanding of how our climate is evolving a...  (More)

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EVs for EVeryone

Uploaded: Nov 15, 2020
California has set aggressive goals for EV adoption as it works to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The number of EVs is targeted to triple in the next five years to 1.5 million, then triple again to 5 million by 2030. (1) What does that mean for the mid-Peninsula? Our cities have some of the highest EV adoption in the state, around 8% compared to the state’s 2%. It’s not just that residents care about the environment. We live in a wealthy, tech-forward area with large environmentally conscious businesses and a temperate climate. Where California goes, we go beyond. Here is how EV adoption might play out over the next ten years, using very rough numbers.

Well over half the cars you see around town would be EVs in ten years. What does it take to support almost 40,000 EVs in Palo Alto? (2) All of San Mateo County had only 22,000 at the end of 2019. Can we get to 200,000 EVs in San Mateo County? 600,000 in Santa Clara County? And do it all in one decade?

I talked with our local power providers — Peninsula Clean Energy (PCE), Silicon Valley Clean Energy (SVCE), and City of Palo Alto Utilities (CPAU) — about the steps they are taking to support and accelerate EV adoption. (3) What struck me most is the cost of building out EV charging infrastructure and the speed at which a lot of difficult work needs to be done. This effort is not for the faint of heart but it is critical to hit our emissions goals. So, what is involved?

So. Many. Chargers.
There are about 10,000 gas stations in California, so maybe 50,000 pumps. There are over 5,000 publicly available fast EV chargers, and counting. (4) How many more do we need? While most EV owners fill up conveniently at their homes, public chargers are essential for drivers without a home charger and for those taking long trips.

There are a number of estimates floating around for how many chargers we need, where, and of which type. Palo Alto, for example, did an assessment this summer. The state has an EV Infrastructure Projection Tool. The California Electric Transportation Coalition (CalETC) issued the following guidance:

Source: City of Palo Alto Utilities

Based on these and other sources, I came up with a very rough rule of thumb for the number of public or shared-private chargers we need, namely 1 fast (level-3) charger and 10 level-2 chargers for every 100 EVs on the road. These are chargers you might find at a shopping center, a workplace, a multi-family residence, or a gas station, and does not include the many we will have in private homes and businesses. Here is what that might mean for our area, using the EV targets above and rounded numbers. (5)

Numbers for chargers today are taken from the California Energy Commission’s EV dashboard, while the others are from my very rough rule of thumb.

Those numbers may not seem huge, but costs are high because some of these sites are complicated to set up, particularly because of how much power they use. My second rough rule of thumb is that a Level-2 charger costs about $8000 and a Level-3 charger about $80,000. (6) We can add another column to this chart.

Priority 1: Find Money
That leads us to a top priority for all three power providers I spoke to, namely to help organizations find money to install chargers. This is especially important for multi-family residences, small and medium businesses, non-profits, and sites in poorer communities where the opportunity to charge at home may be scarce.

To meet this shared need, CPAU, PCE, and SVCE joined forces with two other local power providers to co-fund a program with the state to help some of these businesses. Applications can be submitted starting next month. SVCE also formed a working group a year ago, the Silicon Valley Transportation Electrification Clearinghouse (SVTEC), that helps members find additional funding and reduce costs.

Priority 2: Motivate
Money, however, is not enough without motivation, and that’s especially difficult during a pandemic.

Palo Alto made it a priority to focus on multi-family buildings a few years ago, having noticed that only 10% of residential EVs are registered in such buildings despite 42% of the city’s households living there. The utility offers education, assistance, and generous rebates for chargers. “We have spent quite a lot of time talking to managers and residents at lower-income multi-family properties,” says Hiromi Kelty, Program Manager at City of Palo Alto Utilities. “There are almost 2000 low-income households in these residences at 43 different locations. We have spoken to all of them, multiple times. Our top priority was to help them. We think it would be cheaper for people to drive an EV. Finally we thought two were ready to move, but COVID nixed that. There are a lot of grants available, but it’s hard to motivate the switch right now.”

SVCE also decided to “tackle the tough nuts” when it comes to charging, meaning multi-family and lower-income residences as well as small businesses. Justin Zagunis, a Senior Decarbonization and Grid Innovation Analyst for SVCE, says “We want to try to figure it out, find something scalable. We’re learning…. What we’ve learned so far is, well, it’s hard to engage. COVID really makes it hard, free support isn’t enough. We are trying to figure out how to inspire people to participate. We’ve targeted several hundred of these properties, and their tenants. I hope we’ll get there.”

Peninsula Clean Energy has a 1.5-year-old program to help low-income households buy a used EV. Rafael Reyes, the Director of Energy Programs for PCE, says “I’d say we’ve seen modest uptake so far. People who get a car are incredibly enthusiastic and love that they are saving so much money. But we are only at about 70 vehicles to date.” Next year they plan to augment this effort to continue their push.

Priority 3: Make it Easy
Our local power providers recognize the importance of technical assistance when it comes to evaluating potential sites and generating options for larger installations. In fact, all share the same contractor, which helps to build expertise and best practices. In addition, most have also been streamlining permitting, and both SVCE and PCE are piloting technology that automatically shifts charging to less expensive times. (7) Unlike the City of Palo Alto Utilities, which has yet to roll out smart meters, both PCE and SVCE are able to offer EV rates that encourage cleaner and cheaper charging. Reyes estimates that about one-third of EV owners have opted in to date.

To simplify installations and reduce load on the grid, Peninsula Clean Energy advocates that EV owners adopt Level-1 charging when possible. This means using a standard outlet to charge an EV, which yields about 4.5 miles per hour of charging. These outlets are cheap and fast to install, they help the grid by spreading the charging load, and they are perfectly adequate in most cases. Reyes explains: “We see about half of EV owners using a standard outlet. The reality is that people drive 30 miles a day, and with a standard outlet you can get 40 miles overnight. You can charge up at a fast-charger when needed.” I did that for a while, shopping at Whole Foods in Los Altos so I could use one of their fast chargers. I often see EVs plugged in at the local library as well.

Priority 4: Future Proof
It is a lot of effort and expense to retrofit residences, workplaces, and parking garages with chargers. Fortunately SVCE and PCE have been successful in drafting and promoting a model building code that incorporates EV-readiness into new construction. Planners can choose what type of charging is provided and how many spaces share a charger. Palo Alto recently adopted an EV-readiness standard as well. Future generations will not have to go through all this work!

Why Invest So Much?
Our local power providers are investing a tremendous amount of time and money to support the electrification of vehicles. SVCE did a comprehensive study last year that launched numerous initiatives. (8) Palo Alto has made the switch to EVs a cornerstone of their 80x30 plan, with an update last year and another coming up this Wednesday at 7pm. PCE has a variety of efforts to encourage adoption along with some investigations into new technology. (9) All three are collaborating on regional initiatives as well.

I have heard people speculate that this is all being done out of self-interest, that these power providers stand to make a lot of money as we convert cars and buildings from gas to electricity. But that’s not the real story. While a strong balance sheet does help them get funding to make long-term investments in renewable energy, all involved cite their explicit charter to help achieve local and state emissions targets. Reyes’ answer is especially on point because it highlights the benefit of local power. “Why are we doing this? Well, it’s a strategic objective. Peninsula Clean Energy was formed by a unanimous vote of the cities in San Mateo County, with the goal of offering cleaner power at lower rates and advancing decarbonization in San Mateo County. It is our charter. We have no shareholders, we are not interested in profit. Any net margin we have is reinvested in the community. For example, we have issued $3 million in credits to low-income customers and small businesses during this past year in response to the current crisis. The real economic story is that, with gas, 80% of the money leaves the community. With electricity, one-third of the cost goes to power providers and the other two-thirds stays local. By 2025, we expect to see $50 million or so in power and infrastructure dedicated to EVs. That money will stay local.”

Will the Governor’s New Executive Order Help?
Each leader I spoke with wholeheartedly embraced Newsom’s order to prohibit sales of new gas cars by 2035. Zoe Elizabeth, a Senior Energy Consultant for SVCE, said “It’s huge. It will encourage public/private cooperation and help people see this buildout as an integral part of economic recovery. Transitioning to a zero emissions transportation system not only reduces air pollution and improves public health, it creates jobs, at every level.” Reyes called it a “fantastic step forward,” adding that “it’s incredibly reasonable with respect to market timing. Battery prices are dropping like a stone, and the price and benefit of these vehicles is so large. By 2035 there will be no reason why anyone would want to buy a gas car.” Kelty said simply “I am so relieved. And I am really excited. We’ve had aggressive goals for years, and this shows we aren’t crazy, we’re not off-base.”

Our local power providers are taking on a lot as we strive to reduce our transportation emissions. The state is providing some grants (e.g., from cap-and-trade) and co-funding. Market momentum is helping, with automakers moving ahead in earnest with many new models and meaningful sales goals. But charging infrastructure requires much planning and collaboration, even once the critical parties are sitting at the table. So it’s terrific to see our power providers focusing on the nuts and bolts of charger deployment, as well as testing out innovations like smart charging, vehicle-to-building technology, and more.

We residents have an important role to play as well. As Reyes points out: "It's important to keep in mind that there's a long way we can go without much additional charging infrastructure. Anyone with a private garage or parking space that has a plug can enjoy an EV today." Take a few minutes to learn more about EVs: their environmental and health benefits, their lower lifetime costs, and the breadth of models becoming available. If you are in San Mateo County, take a look at Peninsula Clean Energy’s EV site. You can try a free rental or talk with an EV expert. If you are a customer of Silicon Valley Clean Energy, try their EV Assistant. In Palo Alto? Check out the cost calculator along with other information.

Once you have an EV, it’s hard to go back. A Palo Alto survey reported that 7 in 10 EV owners say they are likely to get a 2nd EV, and the market’s only getting better. I love filling up at home, foregoing oil changes, and pre-heating the car in the garage. And when I charge midday, it's like I'm driving on sunshine. It's a wonderful feeling. Don’t wait until 2035 to say "no" to a new gas car.

Notes and References
0. Palo Alto residents can weigh in on the city’s updated plan to reduce transportation emissions this Wednesday at 7pm. Register for the interactive webinar here.

1. These goals for charging infrastructure were set by Jerry Brown in 2018. As California’s Air Resources Board figures out how best to implement Newsom’s recent executive order banning sales of new gas cars after 2035, these numbers will likely increase.

2. Palo Alto has a more aggressive goal of 80% penetration. The 60% value I am using is representative of other similar cities. Below is Palo Alto’s recent estimate of charging requirements needed to meet their 80% goal.

Source: Presentation to the Utilities Advisory Commission, July 2020

3. Peninsula Clean Energy (PCE), not to be confused with PG&E, is a Community Choice Energy provider that serves San Mateo County. Silicon Valley Clean Energy (SVCE) is a Community Choice Energy provider that serves portions of Santa Clara County (the cities of San Jose and Santa Clara are not included). Palo Alto Utilities (PAU) is a municipal utility that covers only the city of Palo Alto.

4. By “fast charger” I mean a Level-3 charger. See the diagram below to understand the types of chargers. (Source: Palo Alto Utilities)

5. Charger data is from this California Energy Commission EV dashboard.

6. Prices vary a lot based on how many chargers a single site can accommodate, the capacity of the local grid, and more. These costs are just rough markers. Note that if you combine my two rough rules of thumb, each new EV on the road costs the public $1600 in chargers: 10% of an $8000 Level-2 charger, and 1% of an $80,000 Level-3 charger.

7. You can find out more about SVCE’s smart charging pilot here.

8. A year into SVCE’s initiatives, they are seeing some progress:
- Silicon Valley Transportation Electrification Clearinghouse (SVTEC) has well over 50 public and for-profit sector participants, including technology companies, large employers, local governments, and local utilities. They are working together to reduce the soft costs of EV charging infrastructure and to identify and attract funding.
- The small business and multi-unit dwelling technical assistance program, FutureFit Assist: EV Charging, has engaged over 125 customers. The program is currently assisting four customers to evaluate, design, and install chargers, with more in the pipeline.
- The Regional Recognition program will award its first cadre of winners in December.
- The Priority Zone DC-fast charging program launched in September to incentivize installation of DCFC near multi-unit dwellings. The first round of recipients will be announced in December.

9. Peninsula Clean Energy’s Reyes indicated they are launching a pilot for “vehicle to building”, in which a vehicle’s battery can be used to power a building, for example in case of a power outage. Few vehicles support this capability, but Reyes mentioned the Japanese Nissan Leaf can as a result of a mandate from the government following the Fukushima disaster. Fleets of school buses turn out to have a particularly appropriate operational profile for vehicle-to-building integration.

10. Palo Alto faces the unusual circumstance that about half of its vehicle emissions come from inbound traffic, people commuting into Palo Alto from other places. I asked Kelty what steps Palo Alto is taking, or can take, to reduce those emissions. “Well, it’s really hard, and there’s a whole range of ideas from voluntary to stricter, everything short of banning gas cars from entering, which isn’t realistic.” She mentioned as an extreme idea setting up large parking lots for gas cars at city limits, with electric shuttles to bring people in. More modest ideas include parking fees for gas cars and asking businesses to encourage employees to go electric.

11. EV adoption has not been a consistent ride up. Look at this graph of adoption in our two counties. You can see that 2019 hit a wall, perhaps because federal EV incentives started to run out. The first three quarters of 2020 have also been impacted by the pandemic, though EV sales have done better than sales of gas cars.

Data shown is from this California Energy Commission EV dashboard

Current Climate Data (October 2020)
Global impacts, US impacts, CO2 metric, Climate dashboard (updated annually)

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What is it worth to you?


Posted by Tom, a resident of Menlo Park,
on Nov 15, 2020 at 1:32 pm

Tom is a registered user.

One way to address that inbound commuting problem would be for employers to focus on hyper-local recruiting to recruit from the biking-distance talent pool (and even larger electric-biking-distance talent pool) so you get fresh smiling energized workers coming in the door each morning.
Another way would be for employers to distribute local housing opportunity announcements to all their workers with a moving allowance, encouraging their moving closer to work.

A smart person could make an app that pushes better job opportunities to me that have shorter commutes than my current one.
I just enter my job type, home zip code and current work nearby street intersection. Then every day, better jobs with better commutes arrive in my emailbox. I take one and everybody is better off. Pretty soon we untangle the commutes and the birds are singing again. (Thank you smart app-maker!)

Posted by Holden, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive,
on Nov 15, 2020 at 2:53 pm

Holden is a registered user.

It seems to me that while EV battery technology is getting cheaper, it is also becoming more durable. In the coming years, 250 to 300 mile range EVs look to become priced in the mainstream, with expected battery lifetimes of many 100s of thousands of miles.

Meanwhile, solar and wind energy keeps dropping in cost; the wrinkle is intermittency.

Given that most personal vehicles sit idle something like 95% of the time, why not work to enable them to be plugged into the grid with low-cost Level 1 connections while they're parked?

For those who are willing and able, they could set their cars to charge to perhaps 80% full when electricity is cheap and plentiful, and discharge (sell back electricity) to perhaps 50% full when low-cost renewable electricity is less available. Keeping an EV's battery in this range is shown to have very little impact on longevity, and willing/able owners could profit while further enabling the deployment of renewable energy.

Posted by neighbor, a resident of Midtown,
on Nov 15, 2020 at 10:21 pm

neighbor is a registered user.

"Reyes explains: 'We see about half of EV owners using a standard outlet. The reality is that people drive 30 miles a day, and with a standard outlet you can get 40 miles overnight. You can charge up at a fast-charger when needed'."

This is why the urgency about public charging stations is overrated. In my post to your last blog I noted that many powerful players, whom you acknowledged, don't want EV's to become popular.

However, I feel that if middle-class and wealthier consumers continue to purchase and drive EV's (a superior product), the less-well-off will eventually follow this trend as the cheaper used car market gradually expands. At that point, landlords will feel obligated to install level one outlets ($100?), or level two ($1,000?) for their renters - or so I hope...

Posted by Sherry Listgarten, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Nov 16, 2020 at 11:26 am

Sherry Listgarten is a registered user.

@Holden: As you mention, the concern about vehicle-to-grid technologies is wear on batteries. Do you have a reference for your point that repeatedly draining from 80% to 50% has very little impact on battery longevity? I often ask about V2G and hear little optimism about it.

@Neighbor: I agree, and Reyes made the same point. We have a *lot* of runway even without much charging infrastructure because so many of us already have access to a parking space with a plug. Even the wealthiest of our zip codes has only 11% adoption. Hopefully this is where new models can make a difference -- maybe people are waiting for a compact crossover, or a suitable EV from a brand they are loyal to.

Posted by Consider Your Options., a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Nov 16, 2020 at 11:48 am

Consider Your Options. is a registered user.

Generally speaking, I find that for an able-bodied person, (as I am, a senior), bicycling is faster than driving for most local trips under five miles. Yes. I grocery shop with my bike. I have it well-equipped for carrying loads.

Electric bikes are a nice alternative for folks who cannot afford a car. One can save thousands on cost of auto insurance, gas, car maintenance with an electric bike. AND you won't have to join a gym becaue you will get your exercise going places. Life on a bike is good, especially in flat, temperate Palo Alto.

The transition to electric cars will generate many millions for our local utilities which is definitely a motivator for the city to push electric cars. EVs are NOT just electric cars. EVs include electric bikes, scooters, buses and shuttles--a wide array of electric options that are far more environmentally friendly than electric cars. These other options don't exacerbate traffic congestion and safety dangers that cars create to nearly the same extent. Electric cars require thousands of miles of asphalt for driving and parking. GHGs are generated by manufacturing the electric cars and the massive public street, parking and fueling infrastructure that is required to support them. While I agree electric cars are less environmentally impactful than gas-powered cars, they are NOT the most environmentally beneficial (or even cost effective) transportation option.

Biking is better for shorter trips (which comprise most of my Palo Alto trips, because our city isn't that big). I do use a car for most of my trips that are longer than ten miles. Electric cars, carpooling and transit are good choices for longer trips. Choosing to bike more often has improved my overall health and happiness (especially now, during the pandemic). For my local trips it is easy, faster, and more fun.

For me, driving will always be the last resort choice for transportation. Electric or not, their safety, cost, and traffic congestion impacts on community are enormous compared to every other mode of transportation. They are an extremely inefficent way to travel.

Posted by Consider Your Options. , a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Nov 16, 2020 at 12:32 pm

Consider Your Options. is a registered user.

If the city is going to subsidize transitioning from a gas-powered car to and electric car, they should provide incentives to transition to electric bikes which are more efficient and have surprising range.

Posted by Holden, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive,
on Nov 16, 2020 at 2:12 pm

Holden is a registered user.

@Sherry: Thanks for the great blog!

A good source of lithium ion battery info is batteryuniversity dot com. A google search of "ev battery wear" turns up even more sites and research.

For example,

<code> Web Link </code>

has in-depth information on tests prolonging the life of lithium-based batteries, including the effects of charging to highest voltage and discharging to low depths of discharge.

Some key takeaways:
* Charging to less than the maximum battery voltage substantially reduces stress on the battery and reduces wear
* Avoiding discharging all the way avoids increase in resistance and consequent heating and thermal stress
* In one set of tests, cycling in a 75% to 25% window increased the equivalent full-capacity cycles to 10,000, versus a 100% to 25% window delivering only 4000 cycles.

My proposal of 80% to 50% for a V2G charge/discharge window was assuming the EV owner would like to keep at least 50% charge available at all times, and that getting 2.5 times the battery life means that the additional wear due to V2G is pretty much negligible. Another V2G user might want to set a narrower or wider window.

I think modern EVs have battery longevity that is plenty good enough for all but the most truly extenuating circumstances. Further, I understand that soon-to-be-released EV battery chemistries have even longer full-cycle life than the ones tested here, so perhaps the V2G-induced wear would be even less concerning in the coming years?

Posted by Mrs. Hypocrisy, a resident of Hillview Middle School,
on Nov 17, 2020 at 11:26 am

Mrs. Hypocrisy is a registered user.

Currently taxes on gasoline purchases (supposedly) pay for road and highway maintenance. If more and more people are using EVs, where do the funds for road repair come from. (You may have mentioned it in your post, but I didn't see this point addressed.)

Posted by Sherry Listgarten, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Nov 17, 2020 at 2:20 pm

Sherry Listgarten is a registered user.

@Holden -- Thanks for the pointers. As you suggest, it's complicated. One issue is that battery management, which creates a virtual battery on top of the real one, already does a lot to protect batteries. A full charge and discharge is not something that happens in real life, so comparing with it is unfair. Experimental results with frequent cycling also seem to show different things. So I'm not sure what to think but will follow along with pilots, etc. The idle EV batteries do seem like a resource we should put to use.

@Hypocrisy: Yes, there was a big news cycle on that yesterday from the UK, which is considering a tax on VMT instead of fuel. See for example here. Why are you worried? From my point of view, we have lots of ways to raise funds for infrastructure like roads. I see it as a terrific problem to have when gas sales fall that low.

Posted by Mrs. Hypocrisy, a resident of Hillview Middle School,
on Nov 17, 2020 at 3:12 pm

Mrs. Hypocrisy is a registered user.

@Sherry: thanks for the quick reply. No. I'm not worried about governments being unable to find new sources of revenue. I'm sure they'll manage just fine (as your provided link confirms). I was just wanted to ensure that there'd be no freeloaders. If you use the roads, you should bear even a modest portion of the costs!

Posted by Tim Bussiek, a resident of another community,
on Nov 18, 2020 at 5:22 pm

Tim Bussiek is a registered user.

Dear Sherry, all,

as part of the PCE Citizen Advisors, I've looked at data more specifically for San Mateo County, which you also cover. I do think it's important to be accurate, because you consistently under report how far we already are:

- There were 22,710 EVs in SMC end of 2019 according to the same DMV site, and with the 4,129 so far in 2020 that comes out at 26,839 (you have 22,000, 22% off). That is 4.16% of the fleet, not 3.5%, starting to make a real dent in GHG
- As an example of a ZIP that is ahead, Atherton shows at 15.2% of the fleet (EV end Q3 2020/fleet end of 2019), you suggest 8% is tops
- EV share of new sales in my calculation is at 12.6% end of 2019 for SMC, 26.5% for Atherton (at 13.5 years average life)
- PCE did a survey in April this year (unpublished) describing a whole EV wave in SMC. Likelihood of decision makers to purchase an EV up from 37% to 51% just in the last year. Of the 51%, 29% are ‘extremely likely' to consider an EV (10 on a scale of 1 to 10), one of the clearest mainstream demand signals in the US to date

My summary:
- Compared to what the people of SMC are already doing, the number 200,000 for 2030 is not bold at all, it's actually really slow �" what we should be looking at are growth rates of EV as part of sales, and they (the growth rates) are increasing, pointing to an exponential uptake
- I've done a projection which for 2025 achieves 100% EV market-share and 32% of fleet with 191k EVs, still a bit behind what SMC people told us in April this year. So essentially half the time that you consider to get to 200k, getting to 100% of fleet in 2032
- Don't agree with Rafael that by 2035 there will no longer be reason to buy a gas car - that is already the case TODAY
- I would not ask the question, "can we do it in a decade", but just do it. You may have a valuable aspect in pointing to what could get in the way, are there many voices complaining? My impression is so far the people are way ahead of the utility companies and politics and goals
- Let's also remember we are in Silicon Valley, where cellphones and taxis disappeared in about 5 years each. Switching costs to an EV for many people are similarly tiny, with many upsides. No need to hide behind Norway at all. Indeed, couldn't we start to work together with some of the local companies (obviously Tesla HQ in Palo Alto) to pull off something great, right here with all the 100% clean electricity?

Posted by Sherry Listgarten, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Nov 18, 2020 at 8:54 pm

Sherry Listgarten is a registered user.

@Tim, thanks for the great post with lots of info.

I agree that share of sales is a useful metric, I just couldn't find it. I have the numerator (EV sales) but not the denominator (all sales), sliced by zip/city/county. Do you have a pointer?

That's also why I used end-of-2019 data in this post for share of fleet metrics. I had data through Q3 2020 for the numerator (EV registrations), but not for the denominator (all registrations). Pointer?

Re Atherton, my bad, I was thinking of that as more of a zip code, while for "city" I was considering more sizable ones like Palo Alto, Mountain View, and Menlo Park (the 8% figure). IIRC Atherton was just shy of 12% (using end-of-2019 figures).

One thing that is frustrating is that many people today, even in our area, are buying gas cars when they could be buying an EV. They have a spot with a charger, they have adequate funds to get the car they need (range, etc). We should understand why and work to address that. Did your survey say anything about that? I wonder how much of it is misconceptions about EVs vs some sort of brand loyalty or model/feature gap.

That said, I also think that many people cannot buy an EV today, and that significant investment is needed to enable us to maintain a good adoption trajectory past some middling point. (We still have some runway.) That is mostly what this post is about.

I think you may be suggesting that we should just rip off the band-aid, stop allowing sales of gas cars asap, and let the market and the people figure it out. Necessity is the mother of invention and all that... I suppose some might argue we do that for gas to buildings as well. Just turn it off and we'll figure things out more quickly. I think it's an interesting gedanken experiment, but in real life we can/should do better because the impact of that sort of very abrupt action is likely to be pretty inequitable. Something fast and fair is what we are looking for, right?

Anyway, thanks for spelling out a different approach to consider.

Posted by Mrs. Hypocrisy, a resident of Hillview Middle School,
on Nov 19, 2020 at 6:56 am

Mrs. Hypocrisy is a registered user.

Sherry said: “ One thing that is frustrating is that many people today, even in our area, are buying gas cars when they could be buying an EV."

[Ed note: This poster is being overly selective in what they are quoting. Take a look at what was written and what they are quoting, and then the critique they are "making". I am leaving it here because it's illustrative.]

I think you have too narrow a focus here. People have many criteria that go into their car purchasing decisions: price, monthly mileage, comfort, where and when the vehicle will be driven, etc. If I needed to drive to Tucson or Bend, Oregon every other month, an EV wouldn't be my choice. If I were thinking about emigrating out of California to Ohio or Minnesota, I wouldn't get one cuz of their poor performance in cold weather. If I had a limited budget . . . .

Posted by Gary G., a resident of Palo Alto Hills,
on Nov 19, 2020 at 11:52 am

Gary G. is a registered user.

Environmentalism is a cultural and a choice. Step one is increasing the fuel economy standards, step two is making sure all major automotive suppliers offer an EV options. Step three, increase participation. Step four, maximize contributory benefit of those who participate in the EV revolution. By now, we should be getting all new six cylinder passenger vehicles out of production, and focusing on new fuel efficient four cylinder vehicles, EV vehicles, and hybrids, with an emphasis on safety, but a large percentage of population has a clear and overwhelming preference for large SUVs.

Posted by Tim Bussiek, a resident of another community,
on Nov 19, 2020 at 4:51 pm

Tim Bussiek is a registered user.

@Sherry, the data is so important because this is taking off as we write, the Tesla M3 was only introduced July 2017, now Tesla is the most valuable car manufacturer in the world, Nio from China is worth more than GM. Important for consumers is that already most of the investment/innovation from car companies is going into electric cars. And markets can tip very fast - so often economists try to 'nowcast', and that is what we should try here too.
The new DMV data is so much better than the spreadsheet of 10/2018 before, and I think it has only been weeks that we have this EV sales data at all. So the opportunity to get into actual 2020 data is very nice indeed, to describe what is going on which is really positive. Based on the old DMV data I calculated an average 13.5 year exchange rate for the fleet, so that gets me a crude denominator. We know the whole car market is in turmoil - but I would err on the side of having some datapoints to missing one of the biggest voluntary EV adoption waves in the world (without Norway or Chinese style incentives).

What I'm trying to suggest is to include an Uber-style disruption as part of our horizon: EVs so popular and valuable, highly consumer driven, that much will be figured out on the go. Perhaps trying to divine ahead of time everything that people might not like about EVs clouds our view. As every ICE car not emitting is a crucial contribution to the most urgent issue of our time, I think we should tolerate some disruption, and give the wave a lot of room.

@Mrs. Hypocrisy: Per Consumer Reports and a lot of other reporting, 93% of passenger travel is local. For those very rare occasions of non-local travel the charging network is already adequate with a little lost time - much overcompensated already by 93% of the time not hanging around gas stations any more. Energy and maintenance costs of EVs are about 1/3. Yes getting into a clean car is still tougher, but then it's really no contest.

@all: Anyone interested in much more local information and perspective please check out Web Link which I help maintain - a positive feed on all the benefits of climate action and how we individually come out ahead.

Posted by Sherry Listgarten, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Nov 20, 2020 at 7:48 am

Sherry Listgarten is a registered user.

@Tim: I changed the post to be clearer that some data is end of 2019 and not "today". I'm not comfortable mixing data from 2019 and 2020 into a single percentage, so I will stick with the data I have. 2020 is a weird year anyway. EVs did relatively well compared with gas cars, but how much of that is because only the wealthy could buy cars at all is a question I'd ask.

I get your point about disruption, I'm just asking at what point we trade off equity (for example) for speed. Uber's evolution was fast but a decidedly mixed bag in other respects.

@Gary: Great point about our preference for big cars. The EV industry is leaning into that and will be releasing lots of big EVs. They are strictly worse for the environment than smaller EVs, but nevertheless my take is that it's the right thing to do. It's too hard to get people to switch otherwise. Maybe later we find ways to go smaller.

Posted by Tim Bussiek, a resident of another community,
on Nov 20, 2020 at 2:09 pm

Tim Bussiek is a registered user.

@Sherry: I'm only interested in the example of speed of change with Uber, and that when consumers ride a wave it will happen that regulations can come more as a response. Having an inhabitable planet of course weighs very differently to having a better mobility experience, so I would want to give the EV wave a much wider berth and support it as much as possible.

The pandemic is very unfair in ways it is playing out, if the rich continue to buy EVs instead of Mercedes/BMW/... that still seems like a win to me - they are in effect paying for scale (e.g. lower prices, better technology, better infrastructure) for everyone later (compare solar panels, Tesla).
You could say the government discounts per EV are regressive because mainly rich get to benefit, but I would keep in mind that societal benefits have been calculated up to $10k per year per EV (Web Link without even considering that we keep earth hospitable. So if the point of purchase currently is the way to influence people to save us all, that still seems a fair use of the people's money.
We can take this offline, if you do see some equity or other downsides of moving fast, it would be good to understand and calculate them.

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