The car-based infrastructure and car-centric culture of Los Angeles pose many potential challenges, yet the City’s relationship to transportation can and should be leveraged as means of emphasizing the importance of this initiative. From a logistical standpoint, this project requires the design, production, and distribution of new electric vehicle models. Inaction within the transportation sector endangers City of Los Angeles residents who already experience abnormally-high levels of particle and ozone pollution. Making a high-level change to vehicle-purchasing practices, as this initiative intends to do, requires extensive collaboration. Working across departments to make electric vehicle purchasing a common goal is a challenging, yet central component of the pLAn’s EV procurement target of 80% by 2025
Proving the City’s leadership, Los Angeles has met and surpassed the targets outlined for 2017 which included the installation of 1000 publicly-available chargers and required that 50% of the passenger vehicles purchased by the city be electric. In the longer term, the City aims to increase new vehicle purchases to 80% electric by 2025 with the ultimate goal of having 25% of light-duty (LD) passenger vehicles be electric or zero emission by 2035. In order to inspire action, the City has put forth a Request for Information which invites automakers to draft bids outlining how they could meet the City’s demand for new electric vehicles and resolve the primary challenge for this initiative: the market’s lack of medium- and heavy-duty electric vehicles. As a means of facilitating the collaboration necessary to electrify Los Angeles’ fleet, the City has created a task force made up of heads of relevant departments. Since meeting with manufacturers in 2016, a new medium-duty electric work truck has been developed and Los Angeles has seen up to $10 billion in demand.
Given California’s proven commitment to climate action, Los Angeles plays an important role as the home to one third of California residents –– with the Sustainable City pLAn, Los Angeles can set an example for other cities nationwide. The proliferation of electric vehicles serves to reduce the City’s vulnerability to the threats posed by climate change. This would mean fewer wildfires, shorter and less severe heatwaves, and a significant mitigation of sea level rise.
Meeting the City’s electrification target would be equivalent to taking 430,000 cars off the road every year and dramatically improve air quality. Beyond mitigation, electric vehicles can also play an important role in developing climate resiliency: EVs can provide a source of backup power during natural disasters and do not rely on traditional sources of petroleum.
Economically, electric vehicles promise cost stability –– since 2000, electricity prices have remained stable and un-impacted by a changing economy. Furthermore, in divesting from foreign oil markets, the development of an EV industry in Los Angeles opens up new opportunities to invest within the local economy car sharing and greater localised purchasing power.