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L.A. Is on a Mission to Electrify Transportation By the 2028 Olympics

The second-largest metro region in the nation aims to become a clean transportation leader ahead of the 2028 Summer Olympics. The action plan calls for even more charging infrastructure investment among other things.

The skyline of city of Los Angeles with mountains in the background.
Tech and transportation leaders in Los Angeles are on a rapid path to expand electric car charging and adopt new mobility technologies in transit, ports and other sectors as the region prepares to host the 2028 Summer Olympics.

The goals put forward by the Transportation Electrification Partnership — established by the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI) — are positioned to firmly establish the metro region as a leader in clean transportation, and send a message to the world around the policies, practices and partnerships needed to put this transformation into action.

“As the largest city in the largest state in America, we take our responsibility seriously,” said Matt Petersen, CEO of the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator, adding that the Los Angeles metropolitan area represents the third largest metro economy in the world, following Tokyo and New York City. “We know what we do here matters. California has long been a leader in climate policy, while growing the economy at record rates.”

To accelerate the adoption of EVs in the L.A. region, buildout of heavy-duty vehicle charging and further transition public and private fleets to electric vehicles, the Partnership has adopted the Zero Emissions 2028 Roadmap 3.0.

The strategy sets up the heavily trafficked Interstate 710, a major route into and out of the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, as a goods-movement corridor wired with enough charging infrastructure to support the electrification of 40 percent of the drayage trucks traveling the route by 2028, and 100 percent by 2035.

The plan has a goal of having 129,000 light-duty vehicle charges in operation in Los Angeles County by 2028. Today, there are about 29,000 public and workplace chargers operating throughout the county, according to LACI. Some 25 percent of new-car sales are now electric in Southern California, and make up about 5 percent of the region’s autos.

“We knew that part of range anxiety was perceptional, and to address that you need visible charging. So, eyes on charging: public charging, workplace charging,” said Petersen. “And as we look at where we need to penetrate the market, multifamily and multiunit dwellings is critical.”

Much of this ambitious development in rapidly transitioning the transportation sector in the nation’s second-largest metro is aided by the rollout of significant amounts of federal and state funding from legislation like the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, as well as state regulatory changes like the Advanced Clean Fleets rule enacted by the California Air Resources Board (CARB).

The success of efforts like these lies in collaboration and partnerships, say officials. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) has launched its Charge-Up LA! program, an incentive program aimed at furthering the development of heavy-duty charging. LADWP provides a reimbursement of up to $125,000 per charging station.

Since launching in 2019, the program has helped to fund the development of 16 projects, putting 54 chargers in operation, said Greg Sarvas, Charge Up LA! program manager. LADWP has allocated some $15.5 million toward Charge Up LA!

“While LADWP offers a generous rebate, additional external funding is often needed to provide the capital necessary for electrification,” said Sarvas in an email. “LADWP’s rebate is designed to stack with other state and federal programs so customers can maximize these opportunities.”

L.A. has been an evolving place, said Petersen, shifting in the community consciousness from being a land of swimming pools and fast cars to one of drought-tolerant landscapes, electric cars and “mode-shift” where the region’s millions of residents put aside their car and use other more sustainable forms of transportation.

“The Olympics, themselves, are an inflection point,” he added. “There’s a sense of urgency in a way to get the region to collaborate with the long-term goal. How do we clean up our air and lead on reducing greenhouse gas emissions while creating equitable opportunity for every neighborhood, for every resident to get access to reliable, clean modes of transportation?”

Los Angeles Transportation Electrification by the Numbers
  • Electric short-haul drayage trucks: 200 out of 14,636
  • Chargers devoted to good movement: 1,816
  • L.A. Metro electric buses: 44 out of 2,000
  • Public and workplace chargers for light-duty vehicles: 29,000
  • Cars in Los Angeles County that are electric: Five percent
  • Cars in Los Angeles County that were electric in 2018: 0.75 percent
  • City streetlights that include car charging: 700
Source: Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator
Skip Descant writes about smart cities, the Internet of Things, transportation and other areas. He spent more than 12 years reporting for daily newspapers in Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and California. He lives in downtown Yreka, Calif.