San Diego Takes Center Stage as Ecotality Works Ahead of Electric Vehicle Rollouts

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includes Seattle; Portland, OR; Phoenix, AZ, Washington D.C.; Nashville, TN; and Houston, TX?

“For some reason, the consumers in San Diego just snap up innovation,” Ecotality’s Read told me. “And No. 2, this is a perfect location for an EV pilot program like this.” Among other things, San Diego’s moderate climate is easier on lithium-ion batteries.

Niggli noted that San Diego ranks high in the adoption of hybrid-electric vehicles like the Toyota Prius—with an adoption rate that he says is about 160 percent higher that the hybrid adoption rate nationwide. “We’re a test market,” Niggli said, “and we just have a lot of tech-savvy, early adopters.” Another factor could be the spirit of cooperation among regional transportation planners, local governments, Ecotality, and San Diego Gas & Electric, according to Mike Niggli, SDG&E’s president and chief operating officer.

Jonathan Read

Jonathan Read

And as Ecotality’s Read put it, “What we’ve learned is that Infrastructure, Infrastructure, Infrastructure is important to the success of the electric car.”

Even after the $115 million in federal stimulus funding expires in 27 months, Read said Ecotality expects to generate revenue by selling and installing chargers in EV owners’ homes, from monthly subscriptions to unlimited charging at its public charging stations, and by selling advertising for the charging stations themselves.

“While this is a major U.S. DOE program initially,” Read said, “it is our intention and belief that EV charging infrastructure will be a private sector industry, with no [adverse] impact on state or local government—and it will create jobs.”

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Bruce V. Bigelow was the editor of Xconomy San Diego from 2008 to 2018. Read more about his life and work here. Follow @bvbigelow

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