As thousands participated in National Drive Electric Week events around the country last week, California took further steps to promote electric cars.
Governor Jerry Brown signed six bills intended to spur electric-car adoption through a combination of increased incentives and measures to make ownership easier.
Much of the legislation dealt with granting solo drivers of plug-in electric cars more access to the state's carpool lanes.
CA Governor Jerry Brown, State Sen. Alex Padilla, and Google's Sergey Brin beside an autonomous car
AB 1721 will grant drivers access to high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes for free, or at a reduced fee.
While drivers of zero-emission vehicles can already access California's high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes without passengers, they still have to pay the full toll on many bridges and highways.
Carpools can already avoid some of these fees even in HOT lanes, and soon that benefit will be extended to plug-in cars as well.
In addition, AB 2013 will increase the number of plug-in hybrids allowed to travel in HOV lanes from 55,000 to 70,000. The original limit of 40,000 was reached back in May, then subsequently increased by 15,000 to allow the state to continue issuing green access stickers.
National Plug-In Day 2013: Electric cars in Fresno, California [Photo by Fiat of Fresno].
There is still no cap on battery-electric cars in HOV lanes (nor hydrogen fuel-cell or natural-gas vehicles), and buyers don't have to wait to attach one of those white stickers to their bumpers.
Two more bills addressed local carpool-lane usage. AB 2090 removed "level of service" requirements from HOT lanes operated by the San Diego Association of Governments and Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, while SB 1298 makes two pilot programs permanent for HOT lanes in the Los Angeles area.
On the incentives front, SB 1275 will create the "California Charge Ahead Initiative," with the goal of directing more of the state's funds toward lower-income car buyers.
The bill is a response to critics who claim that too many of the $2,500 rebates for new electric cars go to high-income individuals, who don't necessarily need a government check to afford one.
Nissan Leaf at eVgo Freedom Station Daly City, California
Finally, AB 2565 requires property owners to allow renters to install electric-car charging stations, provided the renter pays for electricity and maintenance.
This is the second year Gov. Brown has signed six bills to cap off a national electric-car event.
Last year, when National Drive Electric Week was still National Plug-In Day, Brown signed bills that extended HOV lane access for plug-in cars and called for an open standard for charging-station payments, among other things.