A group that advocates for energy-efficiency released its first-ever report on how different states are incentivizing the adoption of electric vehicles in an effort to reduce emissions and found California outpaced its peers by a significant margin.
(CN) — A report published Wednesday by an energy efficiency advocacy group found the state of California was substantially ahead of any other state when it comes to enabling the use of electric vehicles.
The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy released the report that showed many of the states have a long way to go to build out an infrastructure capable of accommodating a large-scale shift from combustion-engine powered vehicles to electric vehicles in an effort to reduce emissions.
“Transitioning to electric vehicles is vital for the climate and for reducing costs for households and businesses,” said Bryan Howard, state policy director at ACEEE and lead report author. “The leading states are embracing this transition, but many more are just starting, even as the automakers are preparing a burst of new electric models.”
Howard and others found that California was by far the most prepared to accommodate a transition to more electric vehicles, being the sole state to set a deadline for electrifying transit buses, heavy-duty trucks and other commercial vehicles.
The state has also invested extensively in EV charging stations, created a tax-incentive program to make electric vehicles affordable and economically attractive, including programs for low-income drivers designed to encourage them to ditch pollution-intensive gas-powered cars.
“Our experience shows transportation electrification is a win-win: good for the economy and most importantly for the health and well-being of those affected most by air pollution from tailpipe emissions,” said Patty Monahan, California Energy Commission, in a statement.
Toxic emissions from tailpipes not only compound the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, causing the surface temperatures around the globe to rise, but is a large public health threat due to its categorization as a known carcinogen by the EPA.
“State policymakers can make a concerted effort to enable an electric vehicle transition that not only reduces pollution but also helps improve access to electrified transportation and quality of life for everyone,” said Shruti Vaidyanathan, another report author.
California earned 91 points out of 100, according to the report.
The state became the first in the nation to mandate a complete transition to electric vehicles, saying no new combustion-engine cars can be sold in the state after 2035.
California has some of the worst air quality in the nation, and as such has been allowed by the federal EPA to craft its own vehicle emissions standards.
This became a sticking point during the Trump administration when the federal government sued the state, saying it had too large a role in setting the nation’s automotive policy as it related to emissions.
Several carmakers — including Toyota, Fiat Chrysler, Subaru and General Motors — initially joined the lawsuit on the side of the Trump administration, arguing that one standard for the entire nation was better than a patchwork approach. General Motors withdrew from the suit in November and the others backed out on Tuesday.
“Good start,” Newsom said on Twitter on Tuesday. “Now it’s time to join forward-looking carmakers in the (California) framework to protect our air and planet.”
California’s approach to the transition to elective vehicles dwarfs that of other states.
The next nearest state was New York, which earned 63.5 points out of 100. The state was the top-performing state in the Northeast, although many other states in the region like Massachusetts (54.5) and Vermont (54) also earned relatively high marks.
New York was distinguished by programs to incentivize the purchase of electric vehicles along with state agencies and utilities crafting programs to foster more charging stations, according to the report.
The largest impediment to the widespread adoption of electric vehicles is their initial cost purchase relative to their gas-powered peers, although the electric versions have lower owner and maintenance costs over the life of the vehicle. Other pain points for EV adoption center on range anxiety, or the distance a car can drive on a single charge and the length of time it takes to recharge a battery.
In many cases, drivers must stop for at least an hour to recharge batteries versus the ten minutes or so it takes to refill a gas-powered car. But the adoption of higher-voltage battery chargers installed throughout America’s transportation infrastructure is reducing range anxiety.
The report also recognized Washington D.C., Minnesota, Colorado and Virginia as leaders in their regions for incentivizing EV adoption.
Several states, including states that rely heavily on fossil fuels like North Dakota, Wyoming and Alaska did not even register a score on the list. Texas received a score but graded toward the bottom of the curve.
States were graded on whether they have created a plan for EV infrastructure, have incentives to encourage the purchase of electric vehicles, programs for low-income drivers and the number of electrified buses and other aspects of public transportation.