Is city up for e-car influx?

Imagine San Francisco with no gas stations, with nearly all its residents driving electric cars, plug-in hybrids or riding public transit. Imagine thousands of charging stations lining The City’s streets like parking meters — just plug in, pay, and your car is fully powered by morning.

In a city where few residents have dedicated parking spots — and hardly any options for plugging in an electric car — ideas for an all-inclusive e-vehicle infrastructure in San Francisco seem both extravagant and far-fetched.

But Mayor Gavin Newsom, who has been on a personal crusade to make The City the greenest on Earth, recently raced the process along by calling on technology companies, car manufacturers and even local utilities to offer suggestions on how to reach the lofty goal — and compete for future city projects.

“Electric cars are going to flood the market in the next couple of years, with the Chevy Volt, Prius plug-ins, Teslas and others in the works,” Newsom said last week. “We need to make sure that The City is ready to support these vehicles. … We refuse to wait.”

But the idea faces steep challenges.

Bob Hayden, a representative with the Department of the Environment’s clean-vehicle program, said the plan’s biggest hurdle is that city folk aren’t as lucky as suburbanites when it comes to parking options. Not everyone has a garage where they can charge a car overnight, he said.

Another challenge is avoiding brownouts from overloading the power grid. The City is looking at so-called smart charge systems that would encourage residents to charge their cars overnight or face steep bills during peak hours, Hayden said.

Newsom, however, is not alone in envisioning a city full of electric cars. PG&E recently said they are preparing for a surge in e-vehicle purchases. New technology, company officials said, is being planned that allows the company to control when a plugged-in electric vehicle starts and stops charging.

Though the electric-car infrastructure plan is in its infancy and the timeline of the project is unclear, officials point to The City’s air-friendly municipal fleet as to whether such a lofty plan is possible.

More than half of San Francisco’s public-transit vehicles are zero-emission. The City currently has 6,300 electric vehicles, including cable cars, light-rail vehicles and the historic downtown F-line. The City also has the nation’s largest fleet of plug-in hybrids — three.

The City has already installed charging stations for electric vehicles in several of its public parking garages — including the Civic Center’s underground lot — and in its municipal garages, officials said.

Luckily, Bay Area residents are already catching on to the green wheels fad, said Vandana Bali, manager of The City’s Clean Vehicles and Alternative Fuels program.

“We aren’t an SUV culture anymore,” Bali said.

maldax@sfexaminer.com

Bay Area Newselectric carsGavin NewsomLocal

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

San Francisco Sheriff candidate Paul Miyamoto in a meeting with the Examiner editorial board on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
New shelter-in-place order gives tenants a temporary reprieve from eviction

Sheriff’s Department resumed regular enforcement this week for the first time since March

Under stay-at-home orders effective today in San Francisco, outdoor dining is not allowed, and there are new limits regarding the number of people that can be indoors at essential businesses. <ins> (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)</ins>
Bay Area counties to shut down outdoor dining, non-essential businesses

Regional stay-at-home order to take effect Sunday, sooner than statewide order announced Thursday

Former Golden State Warriors’ Kevin Durant received his 2017-18 Championship ring at Oracle Arena in Oakland on Oct. 16, 2018. Durant, now playing with the Brooklyn Nets, will play against his former team at Chase Center in February. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Kevin Durant to face former teammates at Chase Center in February

Schedule released Friday calls for Warriors to play Christmas and New Year’s Day games

San Francisco 49ers running back Raheem Mostert’s (31) return from injury last week was key for the team’s offense. <ins>(Chris Victorio/Special to S.F. Examiner)</ins>
49ers fighting for final NFC wild-card spot in Monday’s game against the Bills

Bills at 49ers When: Monday, 5:15 p.m. Where: State Farm Stadium, Glendale,… Continue reading

The Smashing Pumpkins’ 2020 recording is the 20-song “CYR.” (Courtesy photo)
Billy Corgan continues to confound expectations

Smashing Pumpkins release retro-sounding ‘CYR’

Most Read