Zero-emission vehicles’ (ZEV) potential to decarbonize our transportation system may sometimes seem miles away, but the University of California-Davis is doing all it can to prove “objects in mirror are closer than they appear.”
UC-Davis helped ZEVs shift into the fast lane last week when it partnered with the China Automotive Technology and Research Center (CATARC) to help advance vehicle technology, charging infrastructure, and consumer understanding.
And the university has good insight to share – it’s not only ranked as the most charging-friendly school in America, but it’s also home to one of the world’s leading sustainable transportation research centers.
California’s Zero Emission Vehicle Lessons Head To China
Under the five-year memorandum of understanding, UC-Davis and CATARC will establish the China-U.S. ZEV Policy Lab. This may sound like a purely academic exercise, but it’s much more. CATARC oversees and regulates most aspects of China’s automotive industry, a critical fact considering it’s the world’s biggest automobile market with vehicle sales near 22 million units in 2013.
The Policy Lab will work to expand the global market for electric vehicles and fuel cell vehicles by analyzing consumer and charging station demand, evaluating the effectiveness of different ZEV technologies and incentives, and providing intellectual guidance on ZEV development and commercialization.
In addition to research, Policy Lab staff will also provide training to vehicle designers in China and California, and share lessons learned from California’s ZEV efforts with China government officials.
That cross-pollination may be among the most important aspects of this new entity, as California’s Air Resources Board (CARB), which is leading the charge to put 3.3 million EVs on American roads by 2025, will co-chair the new entity with China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) – meaning America’s EV leader will be helping China’s ZEV market grow as efficiently as possible.
“As a platform for Sino-U.S. exchanges and cooperation in the field of new energy vehicle policies, I believe the Policy Lab will play an important role in promoting EV-related policy design and development in both countries,” said Gang Li, Vehicles Department Chief at NDRC.
UC-Davis Leads On EV Charging Infrastructure, Policy Innovations
Good thing then, that Policy Lab researchers won’t need to travel very far to see EV innovation in action. Leading U.S. charging infrastructure provider ChargePoint recently ranked UC-Davis first among all American universities with 38 charging points across campus, leading a 35% overall nationwide installation surge since 2013.
UC-Davis’ charging infrastructure dominance isn’t too surprising, considering its proximity to the San Francisco Bay Area, which has the most registered EVs and third-most EV chargers in America, and recently announced the largest U.S. EV government fleet purchase. Still, considering America’s first university charging station wasn’t installed until 2010, UC-Davis’ total installed system is truly a fast-lane approach.
The school is also home to ITS-Davis, which bills itself as “the leading university center in the world on sustainable transportation,” is home to 60 faculty researchers and 120 graduate students working on clean transportation, and recently received an $11.2 million grant from the U.S. government to lead the National Center for Sustainable Transportation.
Buckle Up – Zero Emission Vehicle Future Just Ahead
So buckle up, drivers. UC-Davis is firmly in the driver’s seat toward a low-carbon transportation future and we’re all along for the ride. “This agreement is an important milestone in coordinating global efforts to accelerate clean vehicle commercialization,” said Daniel Sperling, ITS-Davis director. “Leadership in this area will allow California, the United States, and China to promote best practices and policy initiatives to bring new energy vehicles to market around the world.”