Powering Innovation: California is Leading the Shift to Electric Vehicles from R&D to Early Adoption

New research tracks key indicators to assess opportunities and obstacles for California in the electric vehicle (EV) sector and finds California captures 69 percent of global EV investment in 2011, ranks first in nation in EV patents, and EV jobs increased during the economic downturn while total employment fell.

The report finds that while there is still much to do, public policy efforts to reduce pollution from vehicles and support the adoption of cleaner alternatives are already paying off. California ranks first in the nation in total charging stations installed with 609 stations and first per capita with 16.3 charging stations per million residents. Additionally, from 2009 to 2010, EV jobs expanded by four percent while total employment in the state dropped by seven percent. The Los Angeles area and Silicon Valley together make up 47 percent of the state's EV employment, but different hubs of specialization are emerging across the state. Silicon Valley leads in Electric Vehicles, the San Diego region in Motor Vehicle Components and Advanced Batteries, the Bay Area in Charging Infrastructure, and the LA area in Advanced Batteries. Manufacturing makes up 59 percent of EV industry jobs and grew 132 percent from 2004 to 2010.

California is also a global leader in technology innovation related to electric vehicles. The state took in $467 million in global EV venture capital (VC) investment in the first half of 2011, and, along with Michigan, is the top patent holder for new EV technology in the United States. Research related to EVs is being explored at world-class research institutions around the state, including Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California at Berkeley, Davis, and Los Angeles. Topics of research range from batteries to vehicle design and public policy. 

    California is a global VC leader in electric vehicles, attracting 69 percent of the world’s EV investment in the first half of 2011.

    • In the first half of 2011, California attracted 69 percent of global investment in EV-related sectors and 74 percent of United States investment in EV-related sectors ($467 million).
    • In 2010, California earned 80 percent ($840 million) of total U.S. and 60 percent of total global VC investment in EV-related sectors.
    • Investment in this area has grown 712 percent since 2006 in the state, with Silicon Valley and Orange County attracting the most dollars.

    California is a national and global patent leader in EV technology.

    • California and Michigan rank first in total EV technology patents in the nation—both generating 300 patents each between 2008 and 2010.
      • Just two decades ago, California ranked 17th in the nation in this area. This huge leap suggests California is taking the lead over older players in the development of newer technologies.
    • Battery patents dominate California EV patents (86% of all patents are for battery technology from 2008 to 2010).
    • Globally, California trails only Japan and South Korea in patents but exceeds other top patent developers including Germany, Taiwan, and France.

    New jobs data shows strong growth in California’s EV sector—going against recessionary trends.

    • During the recent downturn, EV jobs expanded four percent in California, while total employment in the state dropped seven percent from January 2009 to 2010.
      • Los Angeles and Silicon Valley enjoy the largest employment numbers, accounting for nearly half (47%) of EV employment in California.
    • Starting with a relatively modest base in the early days of the EV sector, jobs in California increased 142 percent from 1995 to 2010 (growing from 740 to 1,800). Over the same time period, jobs in the overall economy grew by 12 percent.
    • Manufacturing in California's EV sector is expanding, with a 51 percent increase in employment during the recent downturn (2009-2010).
    • EV business establishment numbers in the state dropped ten percent from January 2009 to 2010, suggesting that possible consolidation in the industry is taking place in the context of the economic downturn and evolving markets related to EVs.

    California’s history as an early adopter of new technology, its forward-looking policies and its strong community efforts to spur market growth in clean energy technology all contribute to its role as a market and infrastructure leader in the EV sector.

    • California ranks first in the nation in total charging stations (609) and first in the nation per capita (16.3 charging stations per million residents).
    • California ranks first in the country in total number of electric vehicles and hybrid vehicles.

    The growing EV sector represents a valuable, growing economic opportunity for California. Addressing the barriers to EV commercialization will encourage widespread adoption in California, the rest of the country, and abroad.