White Paper on EV Status and Paths to Adoption

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This white paper on electric vehicles, produced by the Center for Climate Protection, describes Sonoma County’s status and progress in adopting electric vehicles (EVs). It also identifies the greatest opportunities to accelerate the transition to an electric-powered transportation system.

Transportation accounts for well over half of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions produced in Sonoma County. Nearly 80% of all trips are made by single-occupant, fossil-fuel powered automobiles. Every year Sonoma County spends $850 million dollars to pay for those fossil fuels.

EVs offer one of the biggest opportunities to address GHG emissions from transportation, and will help strengthen both the local environment and economy. In 2013, Governor Brown set a goal for 1 million EVs to be sold in California by 2023.

Sonoma County EV sales by model

Sonoma County EV sales by model

Sonoma County had 1,500 electric cars on the road by the end of March 2015, and over half of those EVs were purchased or leased in 2014 alone. This accounts for 1.6% of California’s EV sales, which is ahead of its share of the population. Customers say they purchase EVs to save money on fuel, to save time via access to high occupancy vehicle lanes, and to have an environmentally friendly mode of transportation. Given today’s growth trend, Sonoma County will meet its share of the Governor’s EV goal. However, more rapid EV uptake is needed for Sonoma County to achieve its GHG goal and align with the scientific imperative for a life-sustaining climate.

This paper identifies eight key findings. Among these is that fuel shift – switching from gasoline to electric – is significantly more promising for reducing GHG emissions than mode shift – switching from a personal automobile to a different mode of transportation like a bike or a bus. Also, the availability of workplace chargers dramatically increases the likelihood that employees will purchase EVs, while also increasing the amount of electric vehicle miles they will travel.

Barriers to more rapid EV adoption include vehicle range, availability of charging, and education of both the car-buying public and the sales force who serve them.

To overcome these barriers, this paper makes four recommendations including the need for stronger policies and increased funding to accelerate EV use; expansion of EV charging, especially at workplaces, multi-family units, and along main transportation corridors; increased coordination for EV charger expansion; and the development of an EV awareness campaign.

Click here to read the full EV white paper.

Read press release here.