‘The road to the future’: Phoenix City Council passes action plan for more electric vehicles
Phoenix City Council unanimously passed on Wednesday a plan to put as many as 280,000 more electric vehicles on the road by 2030 and position Phoenix as a leader in EV adoption.
The Transportation Electrification Plan’s EV Roadmap informs on accelerating the transition to EVs with three main focuses: prioritizing equity in communities impacted by poor air quality, accelerating public adoption through education and leading by example through Phoenix electrifying its own fleets.
“Phoenix took a big step yesterday,” said Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego, referring to the Council vote at a press conference Thursday.
The press conference was hosted at the Phoenix headquarters of Nikola Corp., a zero-emissions vehicle manufacturer that started its first commercial production plant in Coolidge in March.
City Councilwoman Yassamin Ansari, who chaired the Ad Hoc Electric Vehicle Committee that created the plan, said Phoenix already attracts many local EV companies — Nikola, Cruise, Waymo and more — with opportunities like a ready workforce in a business-friendly state.
Electric vehicles are a way for Phoenix to invest in “high-wage, high-quality” jobs with companies like Nikola, Gallego said, and attract more businesses to the region, such as Carlisle Companies.
Nikola currently has about 250 people working at its Coolidge factory now and another 50 to 100 are expected to be hired on by the end of the year.
Meanwhile, expansion at Lucid Group Inc.’s Casa Grande plant is ramping up. The EV maker has 2,000 workers employed there now, and Lucid anticipates hiring 1,000 more.
“We look forward to working with you to implement this plan through piloting and demonstration of heavy-duty vehicles and building on that plan with future updates,” Nikola’s Chief Legal Officer Britton Worthen said during the event.
Partnering with colleges to train EV workers
Phoenix’ plan looks toward training workers for those high wage, high quality jobs at EV companies by partnering with local community colleges for apprenticeships and training. The city will create a policy requiring technicians to go through an EV infrastructure training program.
“There’s a lot of jobs in this field, from engineering to, again, technicians,” Ansari said, and there are many opportunities for people considering this career path.
Businesses are encouraged to create employee charging stations and be part of the bigger push towards EV infrastructure, Ansari said.
One guiding principle of the plan also seeks partnerships with businesses, utilities and other stakeholders to identify needs and resources for innovative solutions.
“Widespread EV adoption will lead to an increase in green jobs, new education, and business opportunities,” stated a city of Phoenix press release.
On the road to cleaner air
The primary motivation for the plan, Gallego said, is to address air quality challenges and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“Data shows us that transportation, and primarily gas-powered vehicles, are the leading source of greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution in the city of Phoenix,” Ansari said, “so electrifying our transportation sector is one of the most significant actions we can take for our climate and public health.”
Ansari said it was the city’s duty to provide clean power infrastructure in the face of poor air quality and the climate crisis.
The Ad Hoc Electric Vehicle Committee was created in June 2021 to look at how to inform and accelerate the transition to electric vehicles in the city.
The committee held over 30 meetings, as well as over a dozen meetings with community members and collected over 1,300 survey responses from the public. The committee was made of 15 members, including auto manufacturers, advocacy groups, utilities and more.
Ansari said the resulting plan requires at least 40% of investments be made in under-served communities that are more impacted by poor air quality, including working directly with community leaders to develop programs that address unique transportation needs.
It also includes an outreach program to educate the public about EV ownership and business owners and developers on best practices for charging infrastructure and more. Phoenix will be electrifying its own fleets and installing at least 500 public charging stations around the city by 2030.
Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport will also be a part of the plan as it transitions to EVs to reduce its emissions. The first autonomous electric Waymo car was introduced to the airport in May, as the company gears up to introduce autonomous vehicle services in downtown Phoenix.
“Now, it’s important that we actually implement the goals set out in this action plan,” Ansari said, through the city’s 2022-2023 budget and recently awarded grant funding.
The federal government announced in February it would put $5 billion over five years towards creating a national EV charging network to make EVs more accessible as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
Earlier this year, the city council also unanimously approved a request for proposals for up to $150 million worth of zero and low-emission buses.
“Electric vehicles matter because they are literally the road to the future,” Gallego said.
Register for the Council’s upcoming Phoenix and Tucson tech events and Optics Valley optics + photonics events.