California is spending $1.9 billion on EV technology: here’s why

It’s a good time to think about an electric vehicle, especially if you live in the Golden State. California will invest $1.9 billion in alternative vehicle technologies over the next four years. The money will go toward building new charging stations, expanding hydrogen fuel cell programs and supporting ongoing research.

The investments, which state representatives say will strengthen zero-emission vehicle infrastructure across the state, are intended to reach communities that may have felt left behind by the EV boom. California says more than 25% of new cars sold in the state are electric, and low-income and underserved communities will need a lot of support to catch up.

“We must ensure this is a zero-emission fueling infrastructure for all,” California Clean Energy Commissioner Patty Monahan said in a statement. “By investing a significant portion of the money to benefit low-income and underserved communities, the state is ensuring that communities most in need have better access to chargers and less pollution from trucks and buses.”

The investments in California come at a time when more and more zero-emission vehicles are available for sale, but their immediate future is still uncertain. U.S. automakers have expressed concerns about demand in light of falling prices, especially from Chinese car companies offering cheaper products.

California hopes its investments will boost demand so more people buy electric vehicles. The state has set aside $5 million for vocational training and manufacturing projects. It also provides enough funding to increase the number of chargers in the state to 2.1 million by 2035, assuming there will be about 15.2 million electric vehicles and 377,000 electric trucks and buses on the road. It is a benefit to the state because electric vehicles have a smaller impact on the environment than gasoline-powered cars.

Vehicles with hydrogen fuel cells are now a rarer commodity. There are currently few major automakers offering production fuel cell vehicles to the public, and there aren’t many gas stations either. California’s plan will increase the number of fueling stations in the state and fund 96 public hydrogen fueling stations through the program. Currently, 61 are currently open, the state says, with most concentrated in Los Angeles and the immediate area.

This is an effort to encourage more people to buy electric vehicles in California and across the US, including standardized charging, tax credits and home chargers.

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Tax credits are still rolling in

One of the main ways states encourage people to switch to electric cars is through tax incentives that effectively give drivers money to buy a new electric car. California is one of the states that does this, along with Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, Delaware and New York.

California is a bellwether for government policy proposals. It pushes for climate change policies to reduce harmful emissions, offers new ideas about internet guardrails for people under 18, and in the 1990s was a leader in legalizing cannabis for medicinal purposes.

Standardized charging

One issue holding back electric vehicles is confusion over charging, as there are two competing standards: the North American Charging Standard (NACS), and the Combined Charging System (CCS). In May 2023, Ford announced it would switch from CCS to Tesla-pioneered NACS. It was quickly followed by General Motors, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Honda, Hyundai, BMW and others. With the latest major setback, Stellantis – owner of Jeep, Chrysler, Dodge, Maserati, Alfa Romeo, Fiat and Ram – announcing its move to NACS in mid-February, the debate has effectively ended as all automakers selling electric cars in the US are now ready to use the Tesla charger.

Standardized chargers mean one less thing for you to worry about when considering your next car purchase.

Charging at home: the next step

Investments in car charging infrastructure and tax benefits do not complete all the pieces of the puzzle. Charging your car at home is a challenge that some car companies are trying to solve themselves.

For example, Hyundai recently announced a $1,100 incentive program that includes a free home EV charger and a $600 installation credit if you buy or lease a Hyundai EV. Honda is also planning similar programs for the upcoming Prologue all-electric SUV, and other auto companies are likely to follow suit.

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