Answers to frequent questions about electric vehicles – The San Diego Union-Tribune
Editor’s note: Today marks the start of an ongoing series titled “Car Wars.”
In an effort to fight air pollution and climate change, local governments, transportation planners and environmental groups have for years asked residents to consider ditching their personal vehicles in favor of alternative modes of transportation such as biking, walking and public transit (buses, trolleys and trains).
We asked readers to submit their burning questions concerning what’s often glibly referred to as “the war on cars.” More than 100 of you have responded, all with thoughtful inquiries on everything from highway-management practices to the economic costs and benefits of embracing more public transit.
A good number of you wanted to know more about electric vehicles. The following are answers to many of your questions.
If you have other questions about the future of transportation and the environment, send an email to email@example.com.
Q: What happened to San Diego Gas & Electric’s program to implement 350 E-V Stations?
A: It’s underway and should be completed within the next two years. SDG&E expects to begin construction of its first charging station this summer. Pacific Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison have launched similar projects.
In spring 2016, SDG&E kicked off a $52.5 million pilot program to install 350 electric vehicle charging stations in businesses and multifamily apparent complexes in every community the utility serves.
If you’re looking for a place to charge your car today, check out plugshare.com.
Q: The San Diego Association of Governments said greenhouse-gas emissions will be reduced in coming decades despite increases in highway capacity. Its rationale is that almost everyone will drive electric cars. How many years does it take for the general population to junk old cars, and is the agency’s prediction likely to occur in San Diego County?
A: The California Air Resources Control Board estimates that the average lifespan of a passenger car is about 16 years and roughly 202,000 miles. For light-duty trucks, it’s about 18 years and about 224,000 miles.
California led the country in 2015 for electric vehicle adoption, accounting for 54 percent all new sales of plug in vehicles nationwide, according to a report from September by The International Council on Clean Transportation.
In San Diego, about 3 percent of all new vehicle sales were for electric plug-in vehicles in 2015. Thirty cities in the state had sales of 6 percent or higher for electric vehicles. Saratoga topped the list with 18 percent. San Francisco and Los Angeles had a share of 5 percent and 2 percent, respectively.
Market watchers forecast rapid growth for electric vehicles after 2025, especially if charging stations proliferate. Some studies have predicted that electric vehicles will account for more than a third of global car sales by mid-century.
Q: How many electric cars and electric bikes could be subsidized or given away to San Diego taxpayers each year if the current total annual costs to taxpayers of public mass transportation were diverted to that purpose?
A: The 2016 annual operating expenses for San Diego Metropolitan System and the North County Transit District combined were roughly $375 million — or enough to cut everyone in the county a check of roughly $125 a year. An electric car can cost anywhere between $23,000 and $100,000.
Q: Why can’t there be a universal payment system for the different vendors of (electric vehicle) charging stations? Why do I need to be a member of each vendor’s system?
A: It’s true that many vendors require or encourage memberships to use their charging stations. However, industry watchers believe that increasingly these stations will be accessible with only a debit or credit card and some already do. However, as the fledgling industry continues to get off the ground, vendors have competed to build reliable customer bases and ensure financial stability.
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