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Electrifying California transit

Electric vehicle charging station
Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images

Two big announcements in California yesterday show how the world's fifth-largest economy is moving on vehicle electrification with the help of some big corporate players.

Why it matters: California is by far the country's largest auto market and already home to an array of electric vehicle initiatives, such as the California Public Utilities Commission's late May approval of $738 million in electrification projects by state's big utilities.

Driving the news, part 1: Electrify America, a VW unit, announced a $200 million plan Wednesday afternoon to expand EV charging infrastructure in California.

  • The latest phase of their California work would add fast-charging stations to several metro areas like Riverside-San Bernardino and Santa Cruz.
  • The plan filed with state regulators would also expand their existing efforts in major urban centers including Los Angeles, Fresno, San Francisco and three others.
  • They're also planning new investments along highways, and new collaboration with operators of bus and shuttle fleets.
  • The big picture: It's part of a wider, nationwide VW-funded charging initiative that stems from the automaker's settlement of its diesel emissions cheating scandal.
  • Go deeper: GreenBiz has a good story on the investments here.

Driving the news, part 2: Shortly before the Electrify America news was the official launch of a non-profit organization called Veloz, which also announced its first project, "Electric For All."

  • The coalition aimed at speeding up EV deployment in the state consists of major automakers (including GM, BMW and Nissan), state officials and power companies.
  • Electric for All is "the largest multi-stakeholder, multi-million dollar public awareness campaign in North America," the group said. Electrify America is helping to fund that effort too.
  • Read more of the full story on Veloz, which had soft-launched previously but had its big rollout yesterday.

Yes, but: While EV deployment in California is growing, carbon emissions from transportation are still rising in the state.

  • California state officials have an existing goal set under Gov. Jerry Brown of having 5 million electric vehicles on the state's roads by 2030, but that's a heavy lift, and the Veloz rollout was an explicit recognition of barriers to meeting the target.
  • The initiatives also come as the Trump administration is seeking to roll back federal auto efficiency and emissions mandates that are helpful to EV deployment.
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