Los Angeles: The New Launchpad For Electric and Plug-In Cars

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The unthinkable has happened: 400 abandoned electric vehicle charging stations throughout Los Angeles that have been collecting dust for the past nine years are going back into operation. And 100 new charging stations will also be going up throughout the city.

In addition, the city of Los Angeles is offering incentives of up to $2,000 for each of the first 5000 residential customers looking to install home chargers for their plug-in vehicles. To top it all off, the city has also allocated $6 million to purchase its own electric fleet.

The mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa, has recently announced that he intends his city to be  the "eco-friendly launchpad for electric cars."

Mini E electric vehicle

Mini E electric vehicle

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2010 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid, 2009 Los Angeles Auto Show

2010 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid, 2009 Los Angeles Auto Show

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2010 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid, 2009 Los Angeles Auto Show

2010 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid, 2009 Los Angeles Auto Show

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This new plan is intended to attract battery and charging station manufacturers to Los Angeles. The city hopes to generate green jobs, lure clean tech investors, reduce pollution, and reduce oil consumption.

But the city is not doing it alone. As we know, it takes a network to create a clean tech market. The city is joined by automakers Nissan, General Motors, and Ford--each of which has committed to plug-in vehicle production in the near future.

Southern California Edison, the nation's leading utility of renewable energy generation, is also part of this network. Los Angeles is joined by four neighboring municipalities in this endeavor as well.

For those who live in the LA region, this could not be better news. I, myself, am constantly reminded of the city's early electric vehicle history every time I drive past the ubiquitous blue EV charging station signs.

Two years ago, my brother and I decided to visit some of these abandoned charging stations. We found prime parking spaces in six major shopping centers and city buildings within a 5-mile radius of our family house. Every one of the spaces was empty, and the chargers were in dismal shape. The fact that they are going back in operation is truly monumental.

It is also significant that 5,000 lucky residents will get their home charging system subsidized by the city. Last year, when I was chosen to be a field test driver for the electric Mini Cooper E, I had to pick up the tab for the thousand dollars in charger installation costs. If the city is offering to help cover these costs, this will be a significant incentive for early electric vehicle adopters.

Bravo to the city of Los Angeles for having the foresight and vision to work towards the path of zero emission mobility. It could not come at a better time.

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