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USA; Ventura County paves smoother road for electric vehicles

Russell Sydney uses a variety of electric vehicles. He has a 2008 E-Runner, an electric scooter made in China; and a 2012 Chevrolet Volt. He’s also converting a 1998 Harley-Davidson Sportster to electric.

Russell Sydney’s first electric vehicle was a scooter he used to zip around Santa Monica, propelled by a desire to ditch reliance on oil.

A decade later, the founder of the Sustainable Transportation Club is still an electric vehicle advocate. The Santa Paula man owns three electric vehicles and is converting another vehicle from gasoline to electric.

As a member of a close-knit community, Sydney has watched the ranks of electric vehicle owners grow over the past year as more carmakers roll out electric and electric hybrid models. He welcomes the change.

The infrastructure to serve those vehicles also is increasing. There are about 60 public electric vehicle charging stations in Ventura County, stretching from the Ojai Park & Ride to the Hillcrest Center in Thousand Oaks. There are nominal to no fees at various charging locations, such as 50 cents per hour in Ventura and free in Thousand Oaks.
Richard Quinn/Special to the Star Russell Sydney employs a charger adapter to use a household current to charge his Chevrolet Volt when he parks it in his garage.

Photo by Richard Quinn, Ventura County Star

Richard Quinn/Special to the Star Russell Sydney employs a charger adapter to use a household current to charge his Chevrolet Volt when he parks it in his garage.

Ventura County’s Air Pollution Control District plans to add chargers to Metrolink stations in Camarillo and east Ventura, according to Stan Cowen, who oversees the district’s electric vehicle outreach and installation grant programs.

“One nice thing about putting in charging stations is that they serve as a showcase,” he said. “They show people there are electric vehicles.”

While electric vehicle owners have chargers at home, those in public spaces can be used by motorists on longer trips, such as going from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles or from Simi Valley to Ojai.

Two advocacy groups, Plug in Ventura County and Plug in Central Coast, are involved in putting together an electric vehicle readiness plan.

The car market has shifted from 14 years ago, when General Motors yanked its EV1 models after three years.

“The nation wasn’t ready 15 years ago,” said Mary Joyce Ivers, Ventura’s fleet and facilities manager. Now “the infrastructure is coming with the vehicles, and it’s moving forward.”

Ventura installed 13 electric vehicle charging stations about a year ago. Ten chargers are available to the public in parking structures and other locations. The remaining three are reserved for the city fleet at the maintenance yard, City Hall and the police station.

Electric vehicles made up less than 1 percent of the share of light vehicles sold last year, said Michael Omotoso, senior manager for Global Powertrain LMC Automotive. Sales totaled just 14,000.

The company predicts that electric vehicle sales will increase every year, reaching 100,000 by 2020. But even then, it still will be less than 1 percent of light vehicle sales.

More vcstar.com

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