There are many reasons to want to live in California, including California girls, warm weather, legalized gay marriage (at least for now!) ... and great deals on electric cars.


I predict that as much as half the U.S. electric car market could be in California, and the Bay area will be the epicenter for a host of reasons. First, it’s the greenest place on Earth, practically paved with Priuses, but also because:

  • California is offering $5,000 cash rebates (like Cash for Clunkers) for people who buy electric vehicles. With one of those lucrative deals in hand, plus the $7,500 federal tax credit, you can score a Nissan Leaf for about $20,000 (instead of $32,780).
  • Nearly all electric vehicles, many of which are to be sold initially in very targeted markets, will be offered in the state. The Coda sedan will be sold nowhere else.
  • The EV Project and ChargePoint America programs, both financially supported by the Department of Energy, will put many thousands of free electric vehicle chargers on state roads, creating an infrastructure unlikely to be duplicated anywhere else. The two programs have separate target regions, but California is in the sights of both.
And now San Francisco’s hand got even better. The Bay Area Air Quality Management District just announced that it is putting $5 million into a program that will add:
  • 3,000 home chargers for home garages and apartment buildings;
  • 2,000 public chargers at work places and “high-density parking areas”;
  • 50 fast chargers (480 volts) next to major highways.
It’s not yet clear if lucky residents will get their chargers free, as some will in the EV and ChargePoint America programs. A district spokesman said the process for the grants, to be launched in December, is still in development and will depend to some extent on a federal tax credit for chargers. Consumers will get vouchers that they can redeem, with a subsidy that will be 50 percent or more.

According to Aaron Richardson, a spokesman for the district, “We’re definitely hoping that these grants will help develop the necessary infrastructure for a fleet of electric vehicles.” He said that about 50 percent of the Bay area’s smog comes from car and truck exhaust, and about 40 percent of its greenhouse gases. Still its air is much better than the legendarily smoggy skies of Los Angeles (which themselves are better than they used to be).

San Francisco “is always ahead of the curve in terms of air pollution regulation,” said Richardson. “So this will follow suit in being ahead of other regions.”

Jim Motavalli ( @jmotavalli ) writes about cars, technology and the environmental world to anyone curious enough to ask.

Want a cheap electric vehicle? Head west, my friend
Like nowhere else, early-adopter state California is subsidizing electric cars and the chargers they'll need to plug into. It's one more reason to move to the G