Is California ready for an electric car revolution?

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electric vehicles in californiaState lawmakers will meet in Long Beach Friday to ask experts if California is ready to accommodate a growing fleet of plug-in electric vehicles already showing up on the state’s roads.

California has mandated that more than 1 out of 10 cars sold in the state be zero-emission vehicles by next year. By the year 2016, the goal is for 1 in 6 new cars to operate without gasoline.

Manufacturers say they’re ready to deliver the zero-emissions vehicles mandated by the state’s landmark climate change laws. The Chevy Volt. The Nissan Leaf. The Tesla Roadster. They’re either on the road or on their way.

Some consumers say they’re ready to buy the cars.

But it remains to be seen how California’s infrastructure will handle a big shift from the gas pump to the electric outlet.

“We’ve got the cars, and we’ve got the drivers,” said Bonnie Lowenthal, Chair of the Assembly Transportation Committee. “Now we need to make sure we’re going to have the outlets and charging stations to keep those cars running.”

Lowenthal’s Transportation committee will convene a hearing from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Friday in Long Beach City Hall. The hearing will feature industry experts, education leaders, local officials and others who can lay out the achievements made so far, and describe the challenges ahead for electric cars.

“Are we going to have the work force we need to attract manufacturers? Are we going to have cars people really want?” asked Lowenthal. “I think real change is coming, and I want to know whether California is going to get in the driver’s seat or just go along for the ride.”

Friday’s hearing is the second to examine if California’s infrastructure is prepared to serve a growing fleet of electric vehicles.. The previous one, held in the State Capitol last month, focused on efforts of regulators, manufacturers, and energy suppliers to meet new laws requiring that a growing percentage of new cars sold in the state are zero-emission vehicles.

Transportation is familiar territory for Lowenthal, who took over the committee in March. She also chairs the Assembly Select Committee on Ports and previously served on the governing boards of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Alameda Corridor Transportation Authority.

Lowenthal represents Long Beach, San Pedro, Signal Hill, the Palos Verdes Peninsula and Catalina Island, a stretch of coastal California that features the nation’s busiest port complex, rail corridors, freeways, city streets and coastal roads. For more information visit the 54th District website.

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