Shared mobility services, electric transportation, and autonomous vehicles will transform how people and freight move. The light-duty electric vehicle (EV) market is growing rapidly. Further behind on the adoption curve are zero-emission trucks and buses, as well as EVs used on ridehail services such as Lyft and Uber. New legislation and regulations in California make these fleets the next frontier in transportation electrification. However, additional policies, programs, and plans are needed to accelerate the transformation of public and private vehicle fleets to a zero-emissions future.

In 2018, to address policy and planning needs for the next generation of sustainable transportation, the Luskin Center for Innovation (LCI) launched its newest initiative: Sustainable Fleets & New Mobility. This undertaking builds on years of research informing clean vehicle policy, infrastructure planning, and low-income clean mobility incentive programs.

Read on for descriptions of the upcoming and ongoing inaugural projects for this new initiative and be sure to check back on this page for updates and new projects.

Estimating Grid Impacts from the Electrification of Transit Buses, Drayage Trucks, and Light-Duty Commuter Vehicles (Current projects)
Researchers: James Di Filippo, Bo Liu, and J.R. DeShazo

Maximizing public benefits of transportation electrification, as well as managing grid impacts (both positive and negative) requires careful infrastructure planning that considers: 1) vehicle inventories, 2) travel patterns, duty cycles, and charging requirements 3) parcel-level land use, and 4) distribution grid capacity and constraints. In partnership with the County of Los Angeles and sponsored by the California Energy Commission, this study will develop spatially resolved forecasts of charging demand and assess the opportunities and constraints presented by current distribution grid infrastructure, given predicted demand. The study focuses on Los Angeles County and three different transportation sectors: light-duty commuter vehicles, transit buses and drayage trucking.

Informing Policy Incentives for Zero-Emission Trucks (Current projects)
Researchers: James Di Filippo, Colleen Callahan, Britta McOmber, and Naseem Golestani

Heavy-duty diesel truck traffic is the main source of toxic diesel particulate matter pollution and a major contributor to smog precursor and greenhouse gas emissions in California. Zero-emission alternatives to diesels, such as battery electric trucks are becoming commercially available. LCI is working on two studies to support the rollout of these new zero-emission trucks.

The first project focuses on drayage trucks operating at the adjacent Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the first and second, respectively, largest ports by container volume in the U.S. The mayors of Long Beach and Los Angeles signed a joint executive directive confirming commitment to transition to a zero-emission freight transportation system. Their stated goal is: “zero emissions for drayage trucks serving the ports by 2035.” In collaboration with a coalition of environmental justice organizations, LCI is analyzing the opportunities and challenges of meeting that goal.

The second project will explore strategies to incentivize zero-emission heavy-duty truck adoption in the Inland Empire of Southern California. This work is supported by a Climate Change Research partnership grant from the Strategic Growth Council and by a coalition of community-based and environmental justice organizations.

Supporting Electrification of Ridesharing Fleets (Current and proposed projects)
Researchers: James Di Filippo and J.R. DeShazo

California Senate Bill 1014, passed in 2018, makes California the first state in the U.S. to regulate the GHG emissions produced by ride-hail vehicles. The bill requires transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft to account for and reduce the per-passenger-mile GHG emissions of trips taken through their service.

In support of California’s regulatory goals, LCI will analyze statewide and regional incentives that could spur greater use of EVs among ride-hail drivers. Research will focus on alternative policies that target fuel supply and fueling infrastructure, driver vehicle choice, and ride-hail platform operations.  This research is partially supported as part of a Climate Change Research partnership grant from the Strategic Growth Council as well as from a gift from the ClimateWorks Foundation.

Future research will provide siting guidance for the targeted deployment of fast-charging electric vehicle service equipment to fuel electric ride-hail vehicle fleets. Using data obtained through a partnership with Lyft, LCI will develop data-driven tools to predict the spatial distribution of charging demand by electric ride-hail vehicles in the Los Angeles Metro Area and recommend siting locations to optimally serve charging needs.

How to Ensure the Future of Self-Driving Cars (2017 article)
Authors: Gregory Pierce and J.R. DeShazo

Vehicle innovation that supports the co-equal goals of efficiency, equity, and environmental quality requires coordination across federal, state, and local policy. Without coherence in regulatory intent and implementation from federal to local government agencies, self-driving cars will repeat many of the shortcomings of the two largest surface transportation technology innovations in the last century: gasoline-powered cars and clean vehicles. This article by LCI scholars provides policy recommendations to prepare for the inevitable future of autonomous vehicles.