California Plans Charging Network for 1 Million Electric-Powered Vehicles

California, the U.S. state that buys the most cars and trucks, set up an alliance of state agencies, utilities and automakers aimed at creating a charging network to handle 1 million electric vehicles by 2020.

The California Plug-In Electric Vehicle Collaborative said today at a conference at Universal Studios in Los Angeles that it will work to simplify the process of installing home-chargers and seek to ease restrictions on vehicle charging in apartments and condominiums. The group, made up of 30 agencies, organizations and companies, will promote installation of public charging equipment and off-peak charging rates.

Nissan Motor Co., General Motors Co. and other automakers are set to begin delivering tens of thousands of rechargeable vehicles in California and nationwide. A decade ago, California’s program requiring the largest carmakers to sell electric vehicles in the state failed in part because of inadequate charging infrastructure.

“By 2025, to meet our air quality emissions goals we’re going to need to have about 250,000 battery and plug-in hybrids being sold in California every single year,” Mary Nichols, head of the state’s Air Resources Board, told reporters today.

The timing of the release of Nissan’s Leaf, GM’s Volt and the plug-in Prius from Toyota Motor Corp. and other rechargeable vehicles coincides with California’s so-called zero-emission vehicle mandate requiring the six biggest automakers to sell battery-powered vehicles in the state starting with 2012 models.

Private Sector

While federal and state incentives are helping spur a market for plug-ins, creating a charging network for 1 million electric autos requires private-sector investment as California lacks the funds to do it alone, said Nichols and Jonathan Read, chief executive officer of ECOtality, a San Francisco-based renewable energy company that’s setting up charging networks in 16 U.S. cities.

“This has to be led by private investment,” Read said.

Nissan last week delivered its first electric Leaf hatchback to a San Francisco-area driver, and has 20,000 initial orders for the car that goes about 70 miles powered by lithium- ion batteries. GM this month begins delivering its rechargeable Volt sedan that goes about 40 miles on a charge.

Carlos Ghosn, chief executive officer of Nissan and affiliate Renault SA of France, has set a goal of leading the auto industry in vehicles powered solely by electricity, targeting sales of at least 500,000 battery cars worldwide within the next few years. Ghosn has estimated that electric cars may account for 10 percent of global auto sales by 2020.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alan Ohnsman in Los Angeles at aohnsman@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Kae Inoue at kinoue@bloomberg.net

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