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Transportation Technology Leaps Forward in California with Jobs and CleanTech

Advanced transportation is taking the venture capital, legislative and compliance world by electrified storm. This is the trend to catch.

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Silicon Valley is positioning itself as a hub for the electric vehicle industry, with companies like Better Place and Coulomb Technologies taking up shop in the California region known for its technology base.

With the June 2010 stock market debut of Tesla Motors, the first new automotive company debut since Ford Motor Co.'s in 1956, companies in the region are excited about the promise that electric vehicles hold.

Transportation Investments Compound the Momentum

Venture capitalists are entering the transport space, beginning with vehicles and now transitioning into components, batteries and energy management systems.

The increasing interest in electric vehicles is a response to the climate change fight being vested in new technologies.

Enter the second wheel of trendmaking...

Washington is devoting a great deal of attention to clean tech, and the Obama administration is supporting a bill that would give $6 billion in subsidies to electric vehicles.

On in the legislature, Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D-Menlo Park), has co-written a bill to put 700,000 additional electric cars on the road in the next six years.

The third wheel is a disaster -- and the unstoppable oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is spurring efforts to wean the United States from its dependency on fossil fuels.

And while Detroit remains the psychological center of the nation's traditional auto industry, California is attracting people interested in the next generation of advanced automotive careers.

Southern California is home to start-ups Coda Automotive in Santa Monica and Fisker Automotive Inc. in Irvine.

Spread the Word about Silicon Valley's Electric Transport Buzz

Silicon Valley is always first for developing new technology, whether it's chips, computers or cars and they know how to spur innovation -- hundreds of automotive manufacturers, component suppliers and utility executives will descend on San Jose in late July for "Plug-in 2010," a four-day electric-transportation conference.

Michigan also intends to be a center of electric-vehicle production and has targeted the advanced battery market.

Transportation was the leading clean-tech sector for venture capital dollars in the first quarter of 2010, with 24 deals globally that totaled $729 million, according to data from Cleantech Group in San Francisco.

Leading the venture capital investment was Better Place, which raised $350 million, making it one of the largest clean-tech investments in history.

CleanTech Jobs in Advanced Automotive Sectors

Once it reaches full production at the NUMMI plant in Fremont, Calif., Tesla expects to produce 20,000 electric vehicles each year and plans to add as many as 1,000 more jobs.

Coulomb Technologies has 62 employees and is actively hiring engineers.

Silicon Valley is also home to some of the top companies working on the infrastructure needed to keep the cars charged, including Better Place of Palo Alto and Coulomb Technologies in Campbell, Calif., which have early leads in creating battery-swapping stations and public charging networks.

Amprius Inc., a Menlo Park, Calif., start-up that is developing advanced lithium-ion batteries. Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt is one of its investors.

Fisker Karma luxury plug-in hybrid electric vehicle is an $88,000 environmentally friendly, four-passenger sedan capable of hitting 60 mph in less than six seconds. The company is conducting a two-month, 42-city North American tour conducted by Irvine-based Fisker Automotive.

Tesla Motors Inc. begins selling stock to the public.

The stock offer's success depends on how much investors are willing to bet on a car company that has never made a profit and expects to lose money until at least 2012.

As for the Tesla vehicle, it's electric and it's very pricey. But Tesla believes Americans' taste in cars is changing.

Heavy Vehicles Add to California's Advanced Transportation Future

The California Air Resources Board has allocated $200 million in Proposition 1B funds to go towards reducing diesel emissions from trucks, locomotives and harborcraft in the Los Angeles/Inland Empire, Central Valley, Bay Area and San Diego/Border regions. These are the state's four busiest trade corridors.

Previous Proposition 1B funds in 2008 provided $246 million to local agencies putting more than 5,000 cleaner trucks on the state's roads.

Diesel Technology Forum Commends California Air Resources Boardfor their effort to reduce emissions by over 29,000 tons of Nitrogen Oxides. Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum, supports the California Air Resources Board’s decision to award $200 million for new technologies to curb nitrogen oxide (NOx) and particulate matter (PM) emissions and in four major trade corridors.

Problem / Solution Approaches

America's industrial/political/consumer complex focuses on a limited number of sectors at a time. Today it is energy and transportation. The green building sector has been largely abandoned or reduced in funding importance. It had it's day and the promise of reducing the 40% of emissions that come from buildings was ... underwhelming.

The next few years will focus attention on the 30% of emissions that come from transportation. This is the sector that will receive the venture capital, the regulatory compliance incentives and rebates, and the job supports.

Toss into the green salad California's high tech leadership and the need for cleantech jobs...and you have a new trend spreading its roots beyond a tap root, to a bouquet of feeder roots!

The problems are batteries, batteries, and transmission lines from renewable energy into the grid. Those are the focal areas of investment to handle a massive conversion to electric and alternative technology vehicles.

You can be part of the solution with your investments, your career preparation, and your support of cleaner transportation choices -- from public electric buses and trains to electric cars, use of electric industrial vehicles.

Get educated about electric transportation, the change is upon us.

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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