The Future of Transportation in Sacramento is Electric

The Future of Transportation in Sacramento is Electric

June 15, 2018 | By The Railyards


What does the car of the future look like? If you ask the City of Sacramento, the answer is clear:

It’s electric.

At the end of 2017, The City of Sacramento formally adopted the first ever Electric Vehicle Strategy Plan, establishing clear targets and priorities to advance the adoption of zero-emission vehicles.

The City of Sacramento has been a leader in the deployment of electric vehicles (EVs) for over 20 years. In 1994, the City adopted its first EV policy, creating a free parking program for EVs in City-owned parking garages. And that was just the first step.

The City of Sacramento has continued to support EVs in the community and has worked actively to provide public EV charging stations at City facilities.

“EV” is used to refer to all types of hybrid plug-in electric vehicles, including both battery-electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid vehicles, as well as other zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) technologies such as hydrogen-powered fuel cell electric vehicles.

Electric vehicles are powered by an electric motor, battery, and controller. An EV’s batteries can be recharged at home or at a charging station while on the go. The City of Sacramento has nearly 500 public and workplace EV charging stations within the City limits.

Sacramento’s Electric Vehicle Strategy

The City of Sacramento will begin initiating actions included in the Electric Vehicle Strategy Plan by 2020 with a full implementation by 2025. The City’s primary focus is in the advancement of light-duty passenger vehicles, although it recognizes the potential for medium and heavy-duty vehicles and equipment for transit, freight, and construction applications.

Here are some of the ways Sacramento is leading the way for a zero-emission vehicle future:

Electric Vehicle Parking and Charging Programs

The first EV policy that the City adopted in 1994 is still in effect today, providing free or discounted parking and charging to EV drivers in both the City Hall and Capitol parking garages.

The City owns and operates 91 chargers at City facilities, 78 of which are available for public or employee charging. On July 17, 2017, the Sacramento City Council approved an agreement with EVgo for the first curbside high-power charging project for Sacramento.

EVgo will install up to six 150-kilowatt (kW) high-power charging stations in the public right-of-way to serve curbside parking at Southside Park. This new generation of technology can provide up to 240-mile range in as few as 20 to 30 minutes. The chargers will be available as a paid service for drivers of EVs.
 

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City’s “Green” Fleet

The City fleet has been recognized as one of the Top 40 Green Fleets in America by the Green Fleets Award Program since 2011. In 2013, Sacramento was named the #1 Green Fleet.

As of late 2017, 49% of approximately 2,400 City vehicles run on alternative fuels.

In June 2017, the City announced that it would be adding a very special vehicle to its fleet - California’s first all-electric garbage truck.

Sacramento is also fueling a fleet of city trucks and street sweepers with a technology that’s right out of a movie (Back to the Future, to be exact)... Powering vehicles by turning food into fuel.

Our Community CarShare

The state’s first low-income ZEV car share program, Our Community CarShare, was launched in Sacramento in 2017. Funded by the California Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, Our Community CarShare provides 300 free memberships to residents of three Sacramento affordable housing developments where many residents don’t own vehicles.

Volkswagen Electrify America Green City Initiative

Volkswagen subsidiary Electrify America has chosen Sacramento as the first “Green City” in its ZEV Investment Plan. Electrify America is investing $44 million in Sacramento for installing electric vehicle charging infrastructure, conducting outreach and education, and implementing programs designed to increase access to and use of ZEVs.

Electric School Buses

Public agencies in the region have also collaborated to advance the deployment of new ZEV technologies. In partnership with local school districts, SMAQMD obtained $7.5 million in Cap-and-Trade funds in 2016 for electric school buses for Sacramento.

At the time of grant award, the project was the largest deployment of electric school buses in the United States. The buses went into service in 2017.

In total, the funding supported 29 zero-emission bus purchases, with three buses for the Sacramento City Unified School District, 16 buses for the Twin Rivers Unified School District, and 10 buses for the Elk Grove Unified School District for bus routes operating primarily in disadvantaged communities.

Electric Vehicle Adoption Rates

Sacramento is clearly leading the charge for EV promotion activities, yet EVs compromise just 2% of new vehicle sales in the Sacramento region. In other regions, such as San Jose, EVs exceed 10% of new vehicle sales.

But EV adoption rates may soon be skyrocketing, here in Sacramento, throughout the state, and even nationwide.

California Governor Jerry Brown has called for the increased adoption of ZEVs, issuing Executive Order B-16-2012 to establish a goal of 1.5 million ZEVs on California roads by 2025.

Senate Bill (SB) 1275, the Charge Ahead California Initiative, also established incentives to increase the availability of ZEVs and near-zero-emission vehicles, with a focus on disadvantaged and low- and moderate-income communities.

Researchers at International Monetary Fund and Georgetown University believe electric vehicles will replace gas-powered vehicles sooner than we may think. These researchers believe that 90% of all passenger vehicles in the U.S., Canada, Europe, and other countries could be electric by 2040.

Benefits of Electric Vehicles

Why are EVs the center of so many city, state, and nationwide goals? The benefits of electric transportation are widespread.

Environmental Benefits

If EVs catch on as fast as the researchers project, it could cut CO2 emissions 3.2 billion tons a year and reduce oil use by 21 million barrels a day — the equivalent to 60% of today’s total U.S. emissions.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. used nearly nine billion barrels of petroleum last year, two-thirds of which went towards transportation. Electric vehicles can help decrease our nation’s reliance on petroleum, which is vulnerable to price spikes and supply disruptions.

Widespread ZEV adoption is essential for the attainment of state air quality and climate goals. Transportation is the largest single contributor to Sacramento’s greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for 48% of baseline GHG emissions. Widespread adoption of electric vehicles can reduce transportation emissions while improving air quality and the health of the community.

Health Benefits

The American Lung Association has designated the Sacramento-Roseville metropolitan area as the eighth most polluted area in America for ozone, and fourteenth most polluted for 24- hour particle pollution. The ALA estimates that each tank of gasoline used costs $18.42 in health and climate costs.

Advancing EVs in Sacramento provides broad air quality benefits across the region that can impact your health and healthcare costs.

Financial Benefits

Electric vehicles can be cheaper to drive and maintain than gas-powered vehicles. According to the California PEV Collaborative, the cost of charging at home during off-peak hours is the equivalent of paying less than $1 for a gallon of gasoline. Compare that to the average price of gasoline, which - as of June 2018 - is averaging $3.46 a gallon in Sacramento.

Electricity is less expensive than gasoline and EVs are more efficient than gasoline vehicles. Electricity prices are also generally much more stable than gasoline prices. On a national average, it costs less than half as much to travel the same distance in an EV than a conventional vehicle.

In Sacramento, SMUD offers incentives for EV owners, such as a $599 incentive to charge free for 2 years and a Time of Day (TOD) credit for charging your EV from the hours of midnight to 6 AM.

Maintenance costs on an EV can be lower than a gas powered vehicle, as well. Unlike gasoline cars, EVs require no traditional oil changes, fuel filter, spark plug replacements, or emission checks.

The biggest financial obligation for an electric vehicle is the battery. A replacement EV battery for a Nissan LEAF, for example, runs just short of $5,500. The LEAF battery comes with an 8 year/ 100,000-mile warranty.

The price for EV batteries has been dropping year over year, however. EV batteries are 70% cheaper today per KWh than they were 6 years ago. And that’s not the only cost of EV ownership that is dropping, either.

Are EVs More Expensive than Gas Powered Cars?

The perception for many car buyers is that electric vehicles are more expensive than their counterparts, and in some cases, they’re right. But just like EV batteries, the cost to own an electric vehicle is getting more affordable each year.

  • Volkswagen e-Golf and Nissan LEAF are available in the $25,000 - $35,000 range.
  • Chevy Bolt, Kia Soul, and BMW i3 are available in the $35,000 - $45,000 range.
  • Mercedes Benz offers an EV B-class hatchback for $39,900.

And Tesla recently announced the arrival of its Model 3, with a $35,000 MSRP.

According to Kelly Blue Book, the average transaction price of electric vehicles was $34,026 in 2017, an 11% decrease in price from the year before. The average price for hybrid-vehicles was $24,764, a nearly 5% decrease from the prior year.

Stanford economist Tony Seba thinks 95% of all passenger miles will be in autonomous electric vehicles by 2030. Seba assumes electric vehicles will be much cheaper to buy than today because of falling battery costs and the fact that they’re easier to manufacture and maintain — only 20 moving parts versus 2000 for gasoline or diesel vehicles.

EVs have increasingly become a more feasible, cost-effective option for consumers - both to purchase and in the overall cost of ownership. As more and more manufacturers focus on producing EVs, the cost to own one should get even more affordable.

A Sustainable Future for Sacramento

Guided by the City of Sacramento General Plan, Sacramento is working towards its goal of becoming the “most livable city in America.” Sacramento’s concept of livability includes creating a healthy city, maintaining a vibrant economy, and developing a sustainable future.

The EV Strategy specifically implements goals laid out in the General Plan Mobility Goals, which call for the use of emerging transportation technologies and services to increase efficiency and to support the rapid adoption of zero-emission and low-emission vehicles. Sacramento is also committed to improving regional air quality and reductions in greenhouse gases.

Electric vehicles are a key strategy to achieve the City’s goals. These advanced vehicle technologies provide significant benefits for local air quality, public health, mobility, the economy, and environmental sustainability. Be prepared to see a bigger emphasis on EVs in Sacramento, because the future of transportation in the City is definitely electric.

Photo courtesy of Eli Margetich.

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