Technological advances have made clean vehicles feasible and affordable for a wide swath of Yolo-Solano residents. The infrastructure for electric and other alternative-fueled vehicles is expanding, and rebates and tax credits remain available for many models. Clean vehicles produce low or no ozone-forming emissions at the point of use. If more of us drove clean vehicles, our air would be cleaner all year round and especially on the smoggiest days of the summer.
Electric vehicles run completely or partially on an electric battery. Full battery electric vehicles have no on-board gas engine. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles can run on full electric power with a chargeable battery, but also have on-board gas engines that extend the vehicle’s total range.
In addition to the usual car-buying considerations, the factors specific to selecting an EV model are range and charging options. Most Yolo-Solano residents have daily work commutes well within the range of available EVs, and a number of employers offer at-work charging free of charge. The charging infrastructure in California, and particularly in the Sacramento region, is ever expanding (more stations) and improving (faster charging capabilities). In addition, EV owners typically install charging stations at home. PG&E offers special rates to EV drivers who charge their vehicles overnight, when there is less demand for power.
Other Alternative Fuel Vehicles (AFVs)
The development of additional clean vehicle technology continues. A number of compressed natural gas (CNG), liquefied natural gas (LNG), biofuel, fuel cell/hydrogen and other alternative fuel vehicles are available. These typically involve burning a fuel much cleaner than gasoline.
There are a number of CNG, LNG, biofuel and hydrogen stations in Yolo-Solano communities and throughout the region. Find these stations on the U.S. Department of Energy’s mapping tool.
Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles
Fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) are available in California. Passenger cars were introduced to the market in 2016, when the first retail hydrogen stations opened. Four California transit agencies operate fuel cell buses. By March 2018, more than 4,200 FCEVs have been sold or leased and a network of 100 retail hydrogen stations under development. See https://cafcp.org/by_the_numbers for numbers that are updated monthly.
How Do FCEVs Work?
FCEVs are electric cars that make electricity from hydrogen. They are electric vehicles that you refill at a station instead of recharge with a plug. Hydrogen (stored on board the vehicle) and oxygen (from the air) combine in the fuel cell to create electricity to power the car and all its components. FCEVs are zero-emission vehicles.
How Do FCEVs Compare to Conventional Vehicles?
FCEVs are electric cars, but they do have some similarities with conventional vehicles.
- Refueling: FCEVs refill with gaseous hydrogen in less than 5 minutes. Dispensers, which are in existing gas stations, operate about the same as a gas dispenser.
- Driving Range: FCEVs have driving range similar to gasoline vehicles, around 300 miles (or more) per fill.
- Vehicle Classes: FCEVs are currently available in SUV and sedan options. Automakers expect that FCEVs will be available in all classes, from motorcycles to pick-up trucks. Transit buses are commercially available, and drayage and delivery trucks are in pilot programs. (AC Transit in operates 20 fuel cell buses in Berkeley and Oakland.)
Unlike conventional vehicles, there are also key differences.
- Noise: Because FCEVs are electric, they are quiet and do not make the same sounds as conventional vehicles.
- Air Pollution: FCEVs do not emit any greenhouse gas emissions from their tailpipe. Conventional cars on the other hand, which use gasoline, emit around 19 pounds of carbon dioxide for every gallon of gas.
- Efficiency: Because FCEVs are electric cars, they are two-to-three times more efficient that a combustion vehicles. FCEVs average the equivalent of 60-to-70 mpg.
Hydrogen Station Development
Stations are clustered in urban areas—San Francisco, LA, and Orange County—and in destinations like Truckee, Napa, and Santa Barbara. “Connector” stations in Sacramento, Coalinga, and Santa Nella provide fuel for long-distance drives. All stations are located at existing gas stations.
Did you know that West Sacramento is home to the first retail hydrogen station in the world and the headquarters for the California Fuel Cell Partnership? Visit www.cafcp.org to find additional information about FCEVs and where stations are open and in construction throughout California.
Gas Hybrid Vehicles
Gas hybrid vehicles offer lower emissions than common gas-powered vehicles. But these vehicles still burn gasoline and put out smog-forming pollution. Hybrid gas vehicles are roughly twice as clean as standard gas vehicles, and electric vehicles are roughly twice as clean as hybrids.
- Drive Clean: the state’s clean vehicle buyers’ guide and incentive info resource
- Take Charge Sac: a resource on buying and driving an electric vehicle in the Sacramento region
- Sacramento Clean Cities: information on clean fleets for Sacramento area (including Yolo County) agencies and businesses
- East Bay Clean Cities: information on clean fleets for Bay Area (including Solano County) agencies and businesses