PLUG OK license plate
SF Bay Area Aims to Become U.S. Electric Car Capital; Coulomb, Better Place News
Nov 21, 2008 (From the CalCars-News archive)
This posting originally appeared at CalCars-News, our newsletter of breaking CalCars and plug-in hybrid news. View the original posting here.
Want more? Become a subscriber to CalCars-News:

Amidst grim news from Washington about the US car industry, a crowd in San Francisco's City Hall assembled for a positive and forward-looking event that until recently we could never have envisioned. We heard the mayors of the Bay area's three largest cities, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., other civic leaders, plus Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's Economics Advisor announce their priority choice for electricity as the fuel of choice for transportation. You'll find the event press release below, plus a related announcement by Coulomb Technologies of its plans to install plug-in charging stations across California.

BACKGROUND: The announcement marks the next step for the Bay Area, following the Bay Area Climate Compact promoted by the Silicon Valley Leadership Group in September. This event was initiated and facilitated by Better Place (initially known as "Project Better Place," the Palo Alto-based startup that aims to rapidly proliferate EVs in "transportation islands," beginning in Israel, Denmark, and Australia. Better Place announced its planned expansion to California. When you look into it, 80% of Californians live in four transportation islands. See­california and the rest of a great website!

GOVERNOR SCHWARZENEGGER'S ROLE: In addition to unifying the Bay Area around a definable goal and providing a model for the nation, this event was notable as a further step toward plug-in cars by Arnold Schwarzenegger. He had been scheduled to attend but at the last minute, had to stay in Sacramento. David Crane, Special Advisor to the Governor for Jobs and Economic Growth, stood in for him. He said, "if the Governor were here, I'm sure he would applaud today's activities and say, let's see more action just like it." We're looking forward to the fireworks as this highly energetic governor coontinues to shift his attention from a "someday hydrogen highway to near-term plug-in cars. That will energize the many plug-in advocates in the legislature and state agencies. And we hope it will accelerate the emerging realignment in the California Energy Commission and the California Air Resources Board. These two key government agencies are shaping the state's climate change and petroleum reduction strategies. They set the regulations for new and converted vehicles; they establish the guidelines for spending tens of millions of dollars soon becoming available; their actions are a model for other states. And President-Elect Obama and the transition team say they are closely watching California for models and ideas.

Definitely not. Almost without exception, those who see the benefits of displacing gasoline with cleaner, cheaper, domestic electricity just want more plug-in cars of either type as soon as possible. We have long felt that every U.S. family's second car could TODAY be a 100-mile-range pure-electric highway speed car -- were it not for the vehicles' unavailability and for decades of exposure to ads saying we need to be ready to drive to the ends of the earth on a moment's notice. For these and other reasons, we believe PHEVs will be the dominant platform for mass-production plug-in vehicles for many years. We've often written about Better Place: at­calcars-news/­869.html and­calcars-news/­910.html we discuss our enthusiasm and our questions. Meanwhile, we're rooting for Better Place and all EV projects. The fact is, if EVs succeed in eclipsing PHEVs sooner than we expect, it will be an unqualified victory.

MAYOR GAVIN NEWSOM'S PRESS RELEASE: "Mayors Aim to Make San Francisco Bay Area the Electric Vehicle Capital of the U.S. Better Place to enter the US market via California, beginning in the Bay Area"­site/­mayor_index.asp?id=93399

11/20/08 - Today, Mayor Gavin Newsom, San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums announced a nine-step policy plan for transforming the Bay Area into the "Electric Vehicle (EV) Capital of the U.S." In conjunction with the news, Better Place, a global electric transportation company, announced that it would enter the U.S. market with California as its first state, beginning in the Bay Area.

"Our aim is to make the Bay Area -- and eventually California -- the electric vehicle capital of the U.S.," said San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.

Commercial availability of electric cars is targeted to begin in 2012, and Better Place estimates its network investment in the Bay Area will total $1 billion when the system is fully deployed. The three Mayors said they welcomed Better Place’s announcement and anticipate many other EV companies will focus on the Bay Area as a top-priority market.

"In these times, it is critical that we identify solutions to address both our economic and environmental challenges," said Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. "Promoting the use of electric vehicles will help forward our nation’s goals to achieve energy independence, to protect the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and to boost the economy by providing jobs in an emerging manufacturing sector."

Joined by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s special advisor David Crane, the Mayors announced that they would take unprecedented action beginning in December to work with the region’s cities, counties, regional governmental organizations and private sector partners to position the region’s economic and environmental future around electric transportation.

"California is already a world leader in fighting global warming and promoting renewable energy," said Governor Schwarzenegger. "This type of public-private partnership is exactly what I envisioned when we created the first ever low carbon fuel standard and when the state enacted the zero emissions vehicle program.This partnership is proof that by working together, we can achieve our goals of creating a healthier planet while boosting our economy at the same time."

The Mayors announced policies that they will advance, beginning in December:

  • Expedited permitting and installation of electric vehicle charging outlets at homes, business, parking lots, and other buildings throughout the Bay Area;
  • Incentives for employers to install EV charging systems in their workplace and provide similar incentives to parking facilities and other locations where EV charging stations can be installed;
  • Harmonize local regulations and standards across the region that govern EV infrastructure to achieve regulatory consistency for EV companies as well as expanded range for EV consumers;
  • Establish common government programs that promote the purchase of EVs;
  • Link EV programs and infrastructure to regional transit and air quality programs;
  • Establish programs for aggressive pooled-purchase orders for EVs in municipal, state government and private sector fleets and future commitment of purchasing preference for EV vehicles;
  • Expedited permitting and approval for facilities that provide extended-range driving capability for EVs in the region through battery exchange locations or fast-charging;
  • Identify and secure suitable standard (110V) electric outlets for charging low voltage EVs in every government building in 2009; and
  • Identify roll-out plan for placement of 220V EV charging equipment throughout each city including city parking lots and curbside parking.

The Mayors said they will work with other cities throughout the region, regional government organizations such as the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and Association of Bay Area Governments, as well as many private sector partners, including the members of the Bay Area Council and Silicon Valley Leadership Group.

[NOTE: Also speaking, besides those listed in the press release: Shai Agassi, Founder and CEO, Better Place; Barry Cinnamon, Board Member, Silicon Valley Leadership Group and CEO, Akeena Solar; Jim Sunderman, President and CEO, Bay Area Council, Prof. Daniel Kammen, Director, Transportation Sustainability Research Center and Director, Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory of the University of California at Berkeley; and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Prof., Pace University Law School, Natural Resources Defense Council Senior Attorney, and Venture Partner and Senior Advisor, Vantaege Point Venture Partners]

[NOTE ABOUT LIST AND OTHER RESOURCES: If you're wondering what you can do in your community to prepare for and promote plug-ins -- and for all the other regions that might want to compete with the Bay Area's ambitions -- the 9 point program above will give you lots of ideas. See also the new "Project Get Ready" initiative that's emerging from the Rocky Mountain Institute's Smart Garage project -- described at­smartgarage/­project-get-ready--20-cities-project-charter.html -- and see reports on some of the measures being considered at­2008/­10/­cities-can-drive-phev-adoption.cfm .]

SEE ALSO BETTER PLACE'S PRESS RELEASE, "21st Century Initiative in California Defines Roadmap for Sustainable Transportation, Green Job Growth and Opportunity to Reinvigorate Region's Competitive Advantage; Better Place Announces Support of California Governor's and SF Bay Area Mayors' Commitments to Build Sustainable Transportation Infrastructure"­press-room/­
which includes many quotes, in advance of the event, by supporters and those expected to be there. And soon see the 45-minute press conference from a link at­california .

COULOMB TECHNOLOGIES TAKES NEXT STEP IN BUILDING THE INFRASTRUCTURE -- ALSO IN CALIFORNIA. This effort will integrate with Bay Area plug-in initiative, and can be seen as complementary to the Better Place announcement.

"Coulomb Technologies Announces California Smart Charging Infrastructure Installation in Service Stations; Q1 2009 Rollout in Metropolitan Areas and Highway Corridors Brings Necessary Infrastructure for Electric Vehicles and Hybrids: Hundreds of Units Planned for Installation by the End of 2009"­press_releases/­release_20081120.php

CAMPBELL, Calif. November 20, 2008 -- Coulomb Technologies today announced it will provide the first smart charging infrastructure installation base for new and existing alterative fueling stations within California for extended range electric vehicles (EREV), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and all battery electric vehicles (BEVs). Largely powered by solar electric panels, these new and existing alternative fueling stations are considered the wave of the future and will sell several types of alternative fuel including ethanol and bio diesel in addition to gasoline. These stations will now include Coulomb Smartlet™ Networked Charging Stations that address the need for fuel in electric vehicles. With dozens of charging station installations and activations scheduled within Q1 2009, the service stations will be located in key metropolitan areas and along the corridors of highways 99 and 101, and Interstate 5 in California with plans to install and activate hundreds more throughout California in 2009.

"Major automakers including General Motors, Toyota, Ford, Mercedes, Volvo, BMW and Nissan are developing a new generation of energy efficient cars," said Richard Lowenthal chief executive officer at Coulomb. "All of these cars have one thing in common: They need connection to the existing electric grid to recharge on-board batteries. Alternative fueling stations will be in California in the coming months and Coulomb is providing a scalable solution that meets the needs to diminish our dependence on foreign oil."

Coulomb Technologies offers the ChargePoint™ Network, a family of products and services that provide a smart charging infrastructure for plug-in vehicles. At the edge of the ChargePoint Network are Smartlet™ Networked Charging Stations that will be located in each service station. Each Smartlet Charging Station is individually controlled through the wireless Smartlet Communications Network and the ChargePoint Network Operating System to provide authentication, usage monitoring and real-time control. Consumers subscribe to the ChargePoint Network and receive an RFID access key that allows them to charge their car at any Smartlet Charging Station.

Coulomb Technologies, Inc., headquartered in Campbell, Calif., offers a family of products and services that provide a plug-in vehicle charging infrastructure, which includes Smartlet smart charging stations ranging in capability from 110V 15A to 220V 80A AC charging to 120KW DC charging. Coulomb applies networking technology to the challenge of charging electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids in order to fuel the electric transportation industry. Coulomb's ChargePoint Network addresses the needs of drivers, utilities, governments, and parking space owners. For more information, please visit

Copyright © 2003-08 California Cars Initiative, an activity of the International Humanities Center | Site Map