What Does The Future Of Clean Cars Look Like?

Association of California Cities – Orange County hosted a panel discussion entitled “How will Orange County  accommodate clean cars of the future?” which focused on the challenges and demands of going green on the road including the demands on infrastructure, clean energy fleets, and the challenges of SB 375 in the Green Car Movement. The panel featured OCBC Chairman Eddie Northen, Robert Graham, Manager of So Cal Edison’s PEV Readiness Program, Sarah Catz, UCI Transportation Institute and Debra Hotaling, Regional Manager of Ford Motor Company. The panel was moderated by Kate Klimow, OCBC’s Vice President of Government Affairs.

Eddie Northen, representing the commercial side of the clean fuel market, discussed the need for multiple clean fuel options and collaborative planning for success. Fuel conservation has been a priority at UPS since the early days of the company, starting with its Electric Vehicle Fleet in New York, in 1936.

UPS remains a leader in corporate sustainability with a “Green Fleet” that includes Propane, Electric, Electric Hybrid, Hydrogen Fuel Cell, Compressed Natural Gas, and Hydraulic Hybrid. (UPS was the only delivery company to road-test the technology in 2006.) For heavy-duty vehicles, LNG has proved successful in reducing emissions, keeping maintenance and operating costs low and significantly reducing dependence on petroleum for shipping lanes. Of course, for long term success, alternative fuel supply needs to be more abundant and accessible, as well as cost-efficient.

Debra Hotaling provided information on new clean fuel cars offered by Ford and how the market is responding. Bob Graham provided detailed information on the Edison PEV Program and what it means for OC cities and residents. In particular, how Edison can accommodate the increased demand on the power grid and the impact of purchasing a clean fuel car on a family budget.

Finally, Sarah Catz expressed the difficulties of going green in California – everything from “range angst” (lack of sufficient alternative fuel infrastructure can limit trips) to the conflicts with existing state laws. For example, green cars aren’t going to affect traffic problems, and won’t meet the requirements of SB375 to reduce vehicle miles traveled. Current housing stock does not typically provide charging options such as in apartment, high rise, or condo developments. Local governments do need to consider the infrastructure needed to accommodate what the public buys, and also must help facilitate the installation of needed infrastructure in order to support the growing market. For more information contact Kate Klimow, Vice President of Government Affairs.

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