San Francisco Moves Ahead With Electric Vehicle Initiative

sf5559.jpgSan Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom is on a roll with initiatives aimed at placing the city at the forefront of urban sustainability. At a press conference on Tuesday, September 30, the mayor discussed his commitment to “actionable implementation,” something he said was currently lacking at the state and federal levels. Under his leadership, Newsom believes San Francisco is well positioned to demonstrate the economic benefits of an integrated clean energy economy.

One project spearheaded by the mayor is San Francisco’s electric vehicle (EV) policy, which includes cities across the greater Bay Area. SF recently closed its request for information (RFI) and is reviewing 19 responses ranging from electric motorcycles to solicited input from Better Place, the Palo Alto firm working with Israel and Denmark to implement a statewide EV infrastructure. In conjunction with technology options, the city is addressing adoption incentives and infrastructure requirements. One example currently under consideration is complimentary charging stations located throughout the city that supply clean power from the Hetch Hetchy reservoir, courtesy the San Francisco Public Utility Commission.

Newsom is a self-described fan of the technology and himself a two-time EV owner. His first was the EV1 from GM, which was later recalled despite his request to purchase the vehicle. By partnering with other municipalities, Newsom aims to create an economy of scale and guarantee a market for electric vehicles in municipal fleets. As documented in the movie Who Killed the Electric Car?, it was the supposed lack of a market for the EV technology that caused GM to discontinue the EV1 line.

Based on a preliminary count of just a few of the partner cities, San Francisco’s EV initiative has already garnered orders for over 1,000 vehicles and climbing, with most of the larger Bay Area municipalities yet to announce their commitments. As the collective investment grows it will drive costs down and improve technology efficiencies for clean, affordable and locally powered transportation.


Justin Sternberg is the co-founder of Continuum Industries, based in San Francisco, CA.

Justin Sternberg is the co-founder of Continuum Industries, based in San Francisco, CA.

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