October 19, 2012
Original source: http://www.cacurrent.com/storyDisplay.php?sid=6461
High gasoline prices this month are fueling a surge of electric vehicle sales in California.
Electric vehicle sales over the past two weeks almost doubled the recent sales pace, according to data from the California Air Resources Board. It tracks sales as part of its rebate program for electric vehicle buyers.
That comes on top of a shift of the source of energy for transportation from oil companies to utilities that had been gradually picking up steam before the gas price spike.
“The last two weeks have been some of our busiest times in the rebate project,” said Air Board spokesperson Cassandra Hockenson. “We have received roughly 900 rebate applications in the first two weeks of October.” Before that it had been running about 1,000 applications/month.
Department of Motor Vehicles data show that at the end of August there were 112,016 electric cars registered in California, up from 97,896 at the same time in 2011 and 93,188 that same time in 2010. At just 0.3 percent, electric cars still represent a small portion of the 31,714,277 vehicles registered in California.
The pace of electric vehicle sales has picked up, notes Artemio Armenta, department spokesperson.
The surge in electric vehicle purchasers is not a concern for the utilities at this point. California’s grid is expected to be able to handle four million electric vehicles--a number the state is not even close to approaching.
At the same time, according to Jason King, PG&E spokesperson, “We are preparing for increased numbers.” A focus is the impact of purchases being clustered in certain neighborhoods given that charging one electric vehicle on a 240 volt charger is on average about equal to the energy consumption of three households. The utility entered into a deal with electric vehicle manufacturers under which it will be informed about new cars that will be plugging into power lines.
“There is a lot planning and studies going on right now” at the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power, said Carol Tucker, muni spokesperson, on accommodating higher numbers of electric vehicle.
They include federal research grants, including for one assessment of how electric vehicles interface and impact the grid. In addition, a five-month-old study by the University of California, Los Angeles, analyzed projected electric vehicle growth in the area. Actual purchases of electric vehicles are aligned with the university’s projections, said Marvin Moon, LADWP director of engineering for power systems.
Los Angeles also has time-of-use rates, with an added 2.5 cents/kWh discount for off peak charging.
About 60 percent of electric vehicle charging in the state is done off-peak, according to Moon. In Los Angeles, about 80 percent of electric vehicles are plugged in off-peak, he added.
Meanwhile, natural gas cars are increasingly popular too. There were 18,310 registered at the end of August, according to state data, up from 15,362 at the same time in 2011 and 13,162 at the same time in 2010.
State data show an increase in hybrid vehicle sales too. However, the department does not break down the difference between plug-in hybrids and conventional hybrids, like the Prius, that charge their batteries from their onboard gasoline engines.
The total number of hybrids on the road at the end of August was 531,599, up from 413,666 at the same time in 2011 and 362,762 at the same time in 2010.
During the first two weeks of October, the Air Board received approximately 200 rebate applications for battery electric and hydrogen powered vehicles and 700 applications for plug-in hybrid models, according to Hockenson.
The Air Board provides car buyers with rebates of up to $2,500 when they buy a zero emissions model. The agency is providing $42.5 million in rebates between 2009 and 2013 to zero emissions vehicle purchasers. It has regulations requiring that 15 percent of the cars sold in California meet its zero emissions standard by 2015. Electric car purchasers also get a $7,500 federal tax rebate.
Plug-in hybrids are charged off the grid and rely solely on battery-power for short trips typical of most drivers’ daily needs. The vehicles use their gasoline engines for longer trips that exceed their battery-powered range.Share This Post