Alternative Fuels & Vehicles


PEV Toyota ImageIn 2012, the Southern California Association of Governments led a collaborative process to prepare Southern California for the anticipated influx of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) in the region, which could be as high as 700,000 by 2022 according to SCAG research. PEVs will reduce air pollution, decrease our dependency on foreign oil and attract green businesses to Southern California. SCAG included PEV-related actions and strategies in the 2012–2035 Regional Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy (RTP/SCS) to support and expand this effort.

Since then SCAG has continued to collaborate with regional partners to secure planning and implementation funding to build out the regional PEV charging network. In Spring 2015, SCAG was awarded a grant to continue planning and outreach related to the challenges of retrofitting existing multi-family housing buildings with charging stations. In addition, SCAG is updating and refining growth projections for PEVs and including growth projections for Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles. These figures will inform policies under development as part of the 2016-2040 RTP/SCS.

Transportation and Alternative Fuels

California is working to expand the use and production of alternative fuels and vehicles for their benefits to air quality, climate change and to reduce our dependence on petroleum-based fuels.  Executive Order S-1-07, the Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS), calls for a reduction of at least 10 percent in the carbon intensity of California’s transportation fuels by 2020. It instructed the California Environmental Protection Agency to work with other state agencies to develop a schedule to meet the 2020 target.  

The State Air Resources Board (ARB) has numerous incentive programs to encourage development of alternative fuels and vehicles.

Common alternative fuel options include the following:

Plug-In Electric Vehicles (PEVs)

There are two types of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) – battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs). BEVs run on electricity stored in batteries and have an electric motor rather than a gasoline engine. PHEVs have a battery pack that is recharged by plugging into a source of electricity (wall outlet, solar panels) as well as an internal combustion engine that is refueled with gasoline.


Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are zero emission and run on compressed hydrogen that produces electricity to power the vehicle. A fuel cell can be used in combination with an electric motor to drive a vehicle.


Biodiesel is an alternative fuel produced from renewable resources, such as soybeans or used restaurant grease. Biodiesel contains no petroleum, but it can be blended with petroleum diesel to create a biodiesel blend. It can be used in diesel engines with no major modifications.

Compressed Natural Gas (CNG)

Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) is a gasoline and diesel fuel alternative consisting primarily of methane. The gas is extracted from the source and compressed to a high pressure where it can be stored in a vehicle fuel tank.


E85 is a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline that is an alternative fuel for automobiles, and is used in flex-fuel vehicles (FFVs). The actual ethanol content of E85 can vary depending upon the month of the year and geographical location, and may be as little as 70 percent ethanol.

Liquefied Propane Gas (LPG)

Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), or propane, is a flammable mixture of propane and butane. LPG is typically obtained through the refinement process of petroleum products. LPG will evaporate and therefore is stored in pressurized steel tanks.


Clean Cities Coalition

Clean Cities Logo Image

The SCAG (or Southern California) Clean Cities Coalition coordinates the activities of both private and public sector proponents of alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs) by providing a forum to discover commonalties, collaborate on public policy, investigate opportunities for joint projects, leverage scarce resources and cooperate on promoting the benefits of AFVs throughout the region.



Current Projects 


AB1236 requires cities and counties in California to formally establish a streamlined permitting process for electric vehicle charging station (EVCS) construction by September 30, 2017. As the sales of electric vehicles (EV) increase, the State views the implementation and adoption of EV infrastructure as not only a local issue but a statewide goal.
Check to see if your city is permit streamlined. 


Southern California Plug-In Electric Vehicle Atlas

The Southern California Plug-in Electric Vehicle (PEV) Atlas includes maps, charts, and data at the subregional level, to illustrate factors that influence demand for charging equipment at specific locations. It contains 198 pages of maps, charts, and data at the subregional and Council of Government-level that illustrate factors that influence demand for charging equipment at specific locations.