Consumer

Group Wants Plug-In Cars To Become Mainstream In Calif.

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Nissan's 2011 LEAF makes it debut at the Orange County Auto Show. (credit: motortrendautoshows.com)

Nissan’s 2011 LEAF makes it debut at the Orange County Auto Show. (credit: motortrendautoshows.com)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — An alliance of automakers, utility companies, regulators and clean-air advocates are touting an ambitious plan to make charging a car in California easier than fueling at a gas station within the next 10 years.

The California Plug-In Electric Vehicle Collaborative released the plan Monday as the first mass-market, all-electric cars – the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt — hit California roads this month.

The plan outlines steps to get charging stations easily installed at homes and then in high-traffic public areas and apartment buildings to encourage drivers to switch from gasoline-powered vehicles to plug-in electric vehicles.

Such measures will require cooperation from several members of the collaborative, who want to see hundreds of thousands of battery-powered cars on state roads in the next decade.

The plan recommends making installation of home charging stations affordable by offering loans and rebates from the state and regional air quality districts.

To further lower costs, the state could reduce registration fees for battery-powered cars, and utilities can offer cheaper charging rates during off-peak hours when there is less demand on the electric grid.

Businesses and municipalities should get incentives to add plug-in vehicles to their fleets, thereby exposing workers to the technology, the plan said.

When automakers first trumpeted battery-powered cars in the 1990s, California installed about 1,300 public charging stations at homes and in public places. Those stations mostly went unused when carmakers pulled the plug on some of their early electric models.

The California Energy Commission said it is upgrading those stations to meet new industry standards and accommodate the new plug-in electric vehicles.

The commission is helping to fund more than 4,000 residential and public charging stations through state funds. Additional funding from the U.S. Department of Energy will go toward charging stations in San Diego, Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay area and Sacramento.

Automotive members of the collaborative include General Motors, BMW, Toyota, Nissan, Ford and Tesla Motors. The utilities include the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, Pacific Gas and Electric, Sacramento Utility District, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas and Electric. The regulators include the California Public Utilities Commission, the California Air Resources Board and the California Energy Commission.

(© Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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