The Race to an EV Future: Being First to an Electric Vehicle Grid

As car companies lined up in Washington, DC last November for the first round of federal bailout money - in San Francisco we announced another way - our comprehensive plan to make the San Francisco Bay Area the "Electric Vehicle (EV) Capital of the US."

Our efforts to advance electric vehicles are not limited to San Francisco. We've engaged the entire Bay Area - a region of 7.3 million people - to make our region the cornerstone of the coming market for EVs. Not just governments, but key companies, business associations, policy advocates, and international car and EV infrastructure companies are all working together to make the San Francisco Bay Area the EV Capital of the U.S.

Now our neighbors to the north, Portland are challenging us for EV supremacy. This type of competition symbolizes what is best about our region and our country. If we were able to put a man on the moon, we most certainly can create a new generation of cars that do not run on fossil fuels. We've done it before. I owned one of the EV1's from Saturn in the 1990s. Now EV companies are sprouting up all over the country from Fisker Automotive to Better Place to Bright Automotive.

Portland and San Francisco have been battling for the title of the most sustainable city for years. We welcome Portland's latest challenge and hope that this EV competition will spread across the country, creating thousands of new jobs and helping establish the United States as an EV leader. In turn this will transform our automotive industry and combat climate change by reducing green house gas emissions.

Since our EV announcement in November we have been working tirelessly on our regional collaborative. Our approach has three different aspects:

1. Government: This effort is comprised of city and county staff from throughout the region (fleet managers, transportation policy directors, etc). This group is sharing information on the current permitting requirements in each jurisdiction, as well as current EV incentives, with an eye toward standardized permitting and incentives for EVs by early 2010. This group, under San Francisco's leadership, is submitting a regional proposal to the federal government for stimulus funding to implement EV infrastructure throughout the region. We are hopeful that this funding will allows us to break ground on thousands of new EV charging stations throughout the Bay Area.

2. Businesses: Led by the Bay Area Council and Silicon Valley Leadership Group, this group is focused on sharing best practices from companies like Google and making the case to large regional employers to embrace EVs in company fleets and EV chargers for employees.

3. Advocacy: Led by Richard Schorske of the Marin Climate and Energy Partnership this working group will lead an effort this spring to invest over $100M in available state funds annually for alternative vehicles in electric vehicles and not only biofuels.

Through our shared EV goals with Portland and other cities, we'll bring electric vehicles into the mainstream of American life. In the process, we'll greatly advance efforts to fight climate change and reinvent our ailing car industry.

We welcome the race to an EV future.

Listen to Mayor Newsom's Green 960 radio show online or subscribe to his weekly policy discussions on iTunes. This week Mayor Newsom continues the conversation about the future of EVs with the CEO of Better Place, Shai Agassi. Join Mayor Newsom on Facebook. You can also follow him on Twitter.