California isn't just interested in taking fossil fuel cars off the streets -- it wants to clean up buses, too. The state's Air Resources Board has voted to require that all buses are emissions-free by 2040. The transition will start in earnest in 2029, when California will require that all new buses ditch fossil fuels. Transit agencies will have access to subsidies (plus funds from the state's settlement with VW over Dieselgate) to help soften the blow of upgrading their fleets. This is no mean feat when zero-emissions vehicles currently represent just 153 out of the 12,000 buses serving Californians.
The efforts to phase out fossil fuel cars are spreading in North America. British Columbia Premier John Horgan said his government would introduce a bill in 2019 that would require sales of emissions-free "light-duty" cars and trucks in the Canadian province by 2040. The percentages would ramp up, starting with a 10 percent requirement by 2025 and climbing to 30 percent by 2030. Horgan also promised to spur sales of adoption in BC by expanding its DC fast charging network to 151 locations, pouring $20 million into the incentive programs for buying zero-emissions cars and making that program more accessible to "middle- and lower-income" residents. While there's no guarantee the legislation will pass, the odds are good given the pro-environment legislature (the top three parties are generally very eco-minded) and the highest EV adoption rate in the country.
Portable emissions-free "power plants" could soon hit the road under plans by Toyota to fit some of the company's light-duty trucks with hydrogen fuel cells that can generate electricity. The world's second-largest carmaker will begin testing the plan to fit a Toyota Dyna with hydrogen fuel cells in Japan later this month, a move that could create fleets of temporary, mobile electricity sources worldwide. The specially equipped vans could generate electricity for 72 hours straight and could potentially replace the diesel-fuelled mini generators that typically power outdoor sporting events, concerts and festivals with a zero-emissions alternative. They could also be used to provide emergency electricity to disaster-stricken areas left without power for up to three days before refuelling. Toyota will work alongside the portable generator company Denyo to create the mini power plants, which will be based on the same technology used in the Mirai fuel cell electric vehicle.
BMW has a problem: with cities planning to either create zero-emissions zones or even ban gas-powered cars entirely, how does it keep its vehicles on the road? In a conversation at the LA Auto Show, board member Klaus Froehlich told Reuters that BMW could make its hybrid cars run in an electric-only mode in polluted city centers where EVs might become the only option. The machines would use their connected technology and navigation to "automatically" disable conventional engines in these areas, Froehlich said. The concept isn't as far-fetched as it sounds. Some hybrids have a significant electric-only range -- the latest X5 can drive for just under 50 miles without touching its combustion engine, for instance.
Three of California's largest utilities, including San Diego Gas & Electric, have put together proposals totaling more than $1 billion to try to electrify the state's transportation sector. The costs of the requests by Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison and SDG&E will be passed on to ratepayers and still need to be approved by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), but the utilities say the projects will go a long way to reducing air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. "We all want to breathe cleaner air, which means slowing down the impacts of climate change will require an increased focus on the areas that produce the most harmful emissions," said Caroline Winn, SDG&E's chief operating officer. SDG&E wants to spend $244.1 million to install tens of thousands of charging stations in its service area to boost the transition to zero-emission vehicles, trucks, shuttles and delivery fleets. Southern California Edison's proposal to the CPUC is scheduled to cost $570 million, which will pay for electric vehicle incentives, rebates for residential charging stations and electrification projects for medium and heavy-duty vehicles.