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California Energy Commission approves more than $20M for clean transportation projects; Tesla, Quallion, other EV, battery and alt-fuel vehicles projects

The California Energy Commission approved funding of more than $20 million to support low carbon transportation projects; about half went to Tesla Motors. These awards, totaling $20,093,718, are made through the Commission’s Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program, created by Assembly Bill 118. The investments of public money through this program require matching-funds from awardees, and by making payments on a reimbursement basis.

For the current fiscal year, 2012-2013, the program is slated to invest approximately $90 million to encourage the development and use of new technologies and alternative and renewable fuels, with the goals of reducing petroleum dependence, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and improving air quality. The program is funded through a surcharge on vehicle and boating registration and smog check fees. The new award recipients are:

  • Tesla Motors, Inc., will receive $10 million to purchase equipment for production of a new SUV/crossover vehicle, the all-electric Tesla Model X, at the company’s facility in Fremont (Alameda County). Tesla is providing $50,200,000 in match funding for this project.

    The project will leverage existing investments in Tesla’s manufacturing and assembly line for the currently available Model S. As with the Model S platform on which it is based, Tesla expects the Model X to have a driving range of more than 250 miles on a single charge. It will be the first sport-utility crossover vehicle in California’s electric vehicle market.

    To support this emerging plug-in electric vehicle market, the Energy Commission has invested more than $20 million to assist in the development of 5,000 charging stations statewide; and has awarded approximately $2 million to help local governments plan for more plug-in electric vehicles.

  • The Bay Area Air Quality Management District will receive $3 million for the Bay Area “eTaxi” Program. Working with Better Place Mobility Services, Inc., the air district will demonstrate specially designed battery electric taxis that can use switchable batteries to give the vehicles essentially unlimited range. Two battery switching stations, at the international airports in San Francisco and San Jose, and six taxis that use switchable batteries will be used. Data regarding their operation will be collected as part of the project.

  • Quallion, LLC, will receive $2,230,595 to expand its manufacturing capacity and integrate advanced battery management system (BMS) electronics to improve the performance of the lithium ion batteries used in electric vehicles.

    The company, based in Sylmar (Los Angeles County), has significant experience with BMS design and production. This award is designed to assist the company in scaling up production for a growing electric transportation market. The project will include assessments of cost, capacity, performance and reliability, along with design, testing and production.

    The California Energy Commission’s investment in Quallion’s manufacturing facilities will help us pursue new applications for our advanced batteries. We have demonstrated the technical capabilities of our lithium ion batteries in medical devices and satellites, and with this funding we can leverage that success toward clean transportation projects.

    —Paul Beach, Quallion’s president

  • Zero Motorcycles will receive $1,815,123 to expand the company’s full electric motorcycle production capacity. The company is based in Scotts Valley (Santa Cruz County). Zero Motorcycles previously implemented manufacturing in Asia, but has chosen to bring its manufacturing and assembly operations back to California. With this award, the company plans to quadruple its motorcycle production capacity and develop new prototype motorcycles.

  • Valley Garbage and Rubbish Co., Inc., will receive $300,000 to build and operate a compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling station that will support the company’s fleet of natural gas-powered garbage collection trucks used for collection of solid waste in the city of Santa Maria (Santa Barbara County). This station, to be located in an existing solid waste collection center, will also be available for other goods-movement fleets along Highway 101. This station will make it easier for fleets to switch to less-polluting CNG vehicles, as there are no CNG stations within 25 miles of this location.

  • The City of Mount Shasta will receive $200,000 to produce a comprehensive plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) readiness plan for Siskiyou, Shasta, and Tehama counties. The commercial introduction of PEVs is just now beginning. Developing a readiness plan will enable stakeholders to help communities prepare for more of these clean vehicles, and is key to creating linked charging infrastructure along the state’s main highway corridors. Streamlining permitting and installation for charging stations will be a key benefit of this planning effort.

In addition, buy-down incentives totaling $2,548,000 will be awarded for 180 alternative-fuel vehicles, most of them school buses. These incentives help to pay the difference between alternative-fuel vehicles and conventional vehicles. They are available only for new natural gas and propane vehicles that meet all the emission requirements of the California Air Resources Board.

These buy-down incentives are reserved for vehicle manufacturers or their designated dealers and passed on to buyers in California at the time of sale. To receive the incentives, buyers must agree to register and operate the vehicles in California at least 90% of the time for three years.

The newly approved incentives go to the following companies:

  • A-Z Bus Sales in Colton (San Bernardino County) will receive a total of $1,688,000 in buy-down reservations. Of that, $1,320,000 is for 66 propane school buses of 14,001 pounds gross vehicle weight and greater; $360,000 is for 36 propane vehicles of 14,001 to 26,000 pounds gross vehicle weight; and $8,000 is for one natural gas vehicle of 8,501 to 14,000 pounds gross vehicle weight.

  • Greenkraft, Inc., in Santa Ana (Orange County) will receive a total of $740,000 in buy-down reservations. Of that, $400,000 is for 40 propane vehicles of 14,001 to 26,000 gross pounds vehicle weight; and $340,000 is for 17 natural gas vehicles of 14,001 to 26,000 pounds gross vehicle weight.

  • Big Valley Ford, Inc., in Stockton (San Joaquin County) will receive $114,000 for the buy-down of 19 propane vehicles of 8,501 to 14,000 pounds gross vehicle weight.

  • Trans West Truck Center in Fontana (San Bernardino County) will receive $6,000 for the buy-down of one propane vehicle of 8,501 to 14,000 pounds gross vehicle weight.


Henry Gibson

California Is correct in promoting the use of natural gas at this time but when it becomes more expensive than coal again, they should promote coal derived automobile fuels. Is there a difference between summer methane(natural gas) automobile fuel and winter methane so that the oil companies can create a shortage and raise the price? Fuels for automobiles can be made from coal and right now from natural gas for less than one dollar a gallon. People with over ten years of memory of fuel prices in California will remember that fuel could be bought for less than a dollar a gallon when Afghanistan was invaded rather than the five dollars now.

Factories that make liquid fuel from coal today can make it from natural gas tomorrow. Methanol should be the standard summer or winter fuel for automobiles and large stocks of it should be kept. Ethanol can also be made from coal or natural gas and all cars, except diesels, should be required to be sold in the US with the ability to burn all light alcohols or gasoline(petrol). The diesel burning car and buses with Capstone turbines in them need no exhaust treatments to meet present and future California standards.

All electric vehicles, like the TESLA, hinder the adoption of hybrids and plug in hybrids, because they both maintain talk about limited mileage and need for charging stations. Both Capstone and Bladon Jets have working turbine powered hybrid vehicles, but for most vehicle use a simple single piston generator-charger would get people to work and home without any chaging stations. A ten kW charger would suffice for a cross-nation trip without much slowdown. Large batteries are too expensive, and very much smaller ones are good enough for even vehicles with tiny range extender engines. TZERO had a range extender trailer for long trips that allowed full speed operation at all times up the steepest hills in cross-country trips.. ..HG..


Tesla with over 3000 local direct jobs (and up to 20,000 indirect jobs) deserves $20+M. Their next generation e-VUS may be a winner if the price is right.


The California taxpayers deserve their $20+M back, there are other, more informed sources of investment dollars.

The US taxpayers deserve $20+M be given back to the California taxpayers so we will have to contribute that much less (plus shrinkage) to CA .

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