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California Attracts Cars of the Future

California Attracting the Cars of the Futurei
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Elizabeth Lee
December 12, 2012 12:51 PM
The state of California is not only home to Hollywood and Silicon Valley. It is also a place where car lovers can see the most innovative vehicles on the roads. Toyota's all electric RAV4 EV rolled out exclusively in California earlier this year, and Fiat will sell its electric vehicle in the state. Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles about why car makers look to California as the trendsetter in the automotive industry.
Elizabeth Lee
— The state of California is not only home to Hollywood and Silicon Valley.  It is also a place where car lovers can see the most innovative vehicles on the roads.  Toyota's all electric RAV4 EV rolled out exclusively in California earlier this year, and Fiat will sell its electric vehicle in the state. 

The hills on the west side of Los Angeles are the perfect place for Scott Painter to experience his passion for cars, especially if they are fast and cutting edge.

"I've had pretty much all the electric vehicles that have come on the market.  I've got both the Tesla roadster and the Model S," he said.

Painter is the founder of TrueCar.com, an Internet website that provides car pricing information for consumers.

"Southern California is such a hub for automotive innovation because we get to see these things first and we get to experience them," he said.

At the Los Angeles Auto Show this year, BMW, Chevrolet and Fiat unveiled electric vehicles.

Real estate agent Gene Bush says people in Los Angeles are ready to pay a higher price for cars.

"In L.A., people will pay their car note [i.e., loan] before their house note," said Bush.

They might have to.  The Tesla Model S costs between $60,000 and $80,000.

Los Angeles Auto Show spokesman Brendan Flynn says California lawmakers are encouraging consumers to buy environmentally friendly vehicles.

"They've given better incentives, so the rebate you get in California when you buy an electric vehicle is better," said Flynn.

Shaun Halladay received $10,000 in state and federal rebates for his all electric Nissan Leaf.

"Maybe if I was in a different state [and] that incentive wasn't there, I probably wouldn't be able to do it," he said.

Halladay says he loves not having to pay for gasoline, but he says there should be more charging stations.

"Even today, I'm having a hard time finding a charger.  I must find one in order to get home," he said.

Halladay will have a good chance of finding one in California.  Jordan Ramer of EV Connect says his company has installed and manages more than 1,000 charging stations in the United States.

"Half to two-thirds of what we've deployed are in the state of California, and probably a good portion of that is in Southern California.  We see that a quarter to a third of EVs [electric vehicles] are here in the state of California," he said.

Tesla's Jeremy Snyder says its largest customer base is in California.

"The state attracts people who are dreamers and big thinkers and idealist, and people that don't want to go with the societal norms, but they really want to create the new societal norms," he said.

Ed Zaelke just placed an order for a Tesla Model S.

"I believe global warming is real, and I think that electric cars are one of the many things we have to do to look for solutions to that.  And, I need to be a part of that solution," he said.

Scott Painter owns two Tesla's.

"Certainly the first one is always going to be performance for me," he said.

Tesla says it plans to make a less expensive electric car to attract more consumers.

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