Zero-emission vehicles could become “as ubiquitous as smartphones” in California by 2040, according to the author of a report out today that analyzes the state’s progress toward Gov. Jerry Brown’s goals to transform the state’s automobile stock.
In 2012, Brown called for 1.5 million zero-emission vehicles on California roads by 2025. On Thursday, he upped the ante to five million ZEVs by 2030. Just over 362,000 ZEVs have been sold in California so far, almost half of the nation’s total, but it’s the rate of those sales that analysts find telling.
“The report finds that the state is on track to meet or exceed 1.5 million ZEVs by 2025,” said Noel Perry, founder of the analysis firm Next 10, which will release its progress report on Brown’s goals today.
“An additional 3.5 million in five years is a big jump,” he said via email. “But we’re seeing rapid growth in the ZEV market, and our report indicates that by 2040 ZEVs could be as ubiquitous as smartphones are today.”
That’s a significant finding, because Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) introduced a bill this month that would ban sales of new internal-combustion vehicles in the state after 2040. Ting is following similar initiatives in France, the UK, India and China.
California defines zero-emission vehicles as battery-electric, plug-in hybrid, and fuel-cell electric vehicles. Because the market share for fuel-cell electric vehicles is “miniscule compared to the other types of ZEVs,” the report ignores them and lumps battery-electrics and plug-in hybrids together as ”electric vehicles.”
The analysis does not extend to 2040, but it shows ZEV sales far exceeding Brown’s 2025 goal if they just maintain the growth rate seen over the past year. That rate should produce about 3.25 million cars by 2025.
If the sales rate declines 5 percent per year, the state will still beat Brown’s goal, deploying 2 million ZEVs by 2025.
“Given the 2017 year-to-date sales growth, it is reasonable to expect that – net of aberration or government policies that discourage ZEV sales – sales will continue to be strong as more infrastructure is installed, and technology continues to improve battery storage, range, charging times, and cost,” the report says.
Despite the surge in sales, electric vehicles represented less than 5 percent of cars sold in California in 2017. That’s more than three times the national rate. The report was prepared by Next 10, a San Francisco think tank geared toward innovation and sustainability, and Beacon Economics, a Los Angeles research firm.