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The Electric Vehicle Wars have Begun

With 40 percent of California’s greenhouse emissions coming from transportation, San Diego Gas and Electric has made a giant step forward in its attempt for the adoption of low emission vehicles through the unveiling of the Nissan LEAF zero emission Electric Vehicle last week in San Diego. It was followed by the opening of the electric vehicle charge unit that is to be installed as a part of the largest transportation electrification project in the country.

SDG&E and the Nissan alliance has its plans to accelerate the transition to electric vehicle fleets by working on the ways to invest in charging infrastructure required by these cars. SDG&E, by acting as the local San Diego coordinator, is to collect a group of regional electric vehicle fleets that the local universities, military, municipalities, the Port of San Diego and the others use on a regular basis. “This partnership is another step toward making San Diego a national center for clean technology and green practices. The public and private sectors in this region are working hand-in-hand to promote innovation and adoption of environmentally friendly technologies,” said San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders.

The underlying intention behind San Diego Gas and Electric’s involvement in integrating EV and charging infrastructure is to enhance the customer information on the energy utilization, reduce outages and better management of distributed renewable energy sources that are essential for its smart grid initiative.  SDG&E will deploy around 2,250 charging stations for the emerging electric vehicle market in San Diego.

Nissan’s entry is to be followed by the display of the test models of EV by the auto majors like the General Motors, Tesla, Mitsubishi and Honda; with most of the vehicles to hit the local roads by 2010.

“The EV wars have begun. There are a lot of electric vehicles that have come to San Diego that are trying to win the hearts and minds (of consumers),” said Yeves Perez, the head of the Eco Investment Club, which is a network for green entrepreneurs and investors.

Besides these auto majors, companies like Karma are to launch a high-end car with a solar roof, followed by an EV by the Chinese car maker BYD.

The Chevy spokesperson Shad Balch said on its plans to launch the EV, Chevy Volt: “San Diego is one of those markets for us. We know they have a strong environmental community and consumers who are early adopters of this kind of technology, so it’s important that we bring the car out and show it off as much as possible.”

The attempt to capture the San Diego County market is a part of the locals’ commitment to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 15 percent from its vehicle fleet by 2012. It is with this idea in mind that SDG&E entered into the partnership with Nissan who will be adding 15 Nissan new zero-emission electric vehicles to the current fleet of 200 alternative-fuel vehicles of the utility.

“As the region becomes a pioneer launch site for these advance vehicles and the charging infrastructure, San Diego will continue on its course to become ‘plug-in ready’ and a national center for clean technology, fostering less dependence on fossil fuels, new ‘green’ jobs and a healthier environment,’ said Debra L. Reed, president and chief executive officer of SDG&E.

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