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Should California spur on the shift to electric vehicles or follow the industry?




A power cable from a vehicle charging station is seen plugged into the side of a Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid August 25, 2010 in San Francisco, California.
A power cable from a vehicle charging station is seen plugged into the side of a Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid August 25, 2010 in San Francisco, California.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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Eight years ago, there were no electric cars for sale in California.

This winter, Assemblyman Phil Ting (D - San Francisco) plans to introduce a bill that would ban gas- or diesel-powered cars by 2040.

The state set aggressive goals to dramatically cut carbon emissions, and putting electric vehicles on the road is one way to reach that goal—vehicle emissions currently account for 37 percent of statewide emissions. Also, a bill banning gas-powered cars marks a shift away from subsidies and goal setting. As a way to reach another state goal of 1.5 million emissions-free cars on the road by 2025, the state offers subsidies for electric vehicle purchases.

There are other external forces at work here: namely, Europe is tiring of diesel-powered vehicles, and electric vehicles are in demand in China. China has already set rules for automakers to expand production of electric and alternative-energy vehicles if they want to keep selling gas-powered vehicles, and it’s working on a ban. France, Norway, India and the U.K. are also considering bans.

The big question is whether the auto industry will beat lawmakers to the electric car future. Since many carmakers have already planned to either curb or end production of gas-powered cars long before 2040. So, does California need to mandate that future, or support the industry and consumers as the free market moves the industry that way?

Guests:

Joel Levin, executive director of Plug In America, a nonprofit group headquartered in Los Angeles  that advocates for electric vehicles

Wayne Winegarden, senior fellow at the Pacific Research Institute, a free-market policy think tank