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New Poll Shows California Voters Want Autonomous Vehicles to be Zero Emission

August 18, 2021

Scientists, Environment & California labor leaders, & autonomous vehicle companies launch Emission Zero coalition to drive adoption of zero-emission AVs

Oakland, CA — New research shows that Californians overwhelmingly want autonomous vehicles (AVs) to be all electric and zero emission. In a recent survey conducted by Global Strategy Group and New Bridge Strategy, California voters strongly prefer that autonomous vehicle companies focus on producing and launching zero-emission autonomous vehicles rather than gasoline-powered vehicles and believe that encouraging zero-emission, self-driving vehicles will benefit the environment and the economy. The new research supports SB 500, a bill before the California Legislature that would require AVs to be zero emission by 2030.* 70% of Californians believe that “We should encourage companies who are developing self-driving vehicles to focus on zero-emission self-driving vehicles rather than gasoline-powered ones that produce tailpipe emissions”* 74% of Californians agree that encouraging the development of zero-emission autonomous vehicles would be “an important step in reducing air pollution”

Emission Zero urges California legislators to take early action toward meeting its ambitious clean energy goals, while generating good-paying jobs in electrifying the AV fleet and developing badly needed charging infrastructure, by approving SB 500. The bill, which was overwhelmingly approved by the Senate, recently passed the California Assembly Committee on Communications & Conveyance.

“This proposed legislation will ensure that the autonomous vehicle industry, from the outset, pairs innovations in sensors and software with zero emission technology,” said Elizabeth Irvin, a senior transportation analyst at UCS. “To deliver on their promise of a more efficient future, autonomous vehicle companies must electrify their fleets as they come into widespread use. California legislators can demonstrate true leadership toward reducing pollution and cleaning our air by passing this bill. This effort is essential to get us to the clean transportation system of the future.”

“California has a momentous opportunity to ensure that sustainability is a priority for the future of transportation,” said Prashanthi Raman, Senior Director of Global Government Affairs at Cruise. “We urge the legislature to set the autonomous vehicle industry on an all-electric path and move our state closer to its zero emission goals. AVs represent the leading edge of the transportation sector — and we should be leading with a green future that has the potential to create scores of new jobs. Real innovation is zero emission.”

“New technologies like autonomous cars have very little value if we don’t prevent our planet from burning,” said Environment California State Director Laura Deehan. “With transportation being the biggest contributor of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, it should be a no-brainer that these new vehicles be zero-emission. It’s time to end the already outdated lifespan of gas-guzzling vehicles, and autonomous new age rides are an important place to lean in when it comes to changing our future now.”

“Investing in electric vehicle infrastructure will not just help us tackle climate change. It will also put Californians to work in union jobs that provide a living wage,” said Scott Wetch of the Coalition of California Utility Employees. “We see SB 500 as an opportunity to propel our state forward and are ready to get to work building more infrastructure for clean-running autonomous vehicles.”

UCS, California State Association of Electrical Workers, the Coalition of California Utility Employees, and Cruise stand ready to support the state’s efforts to take important environmental action and express their support for SB 500. As the new poll showed, California voters support the proposed legislation. Now, residents can show their support by asking their state assembly member to support SB 500 to ensure this critical bill is approved.


About the Union of Concerned Scientists

The Union of Concerned Scientists puts rigorous, independent science to work to solve our planet’s most pressing problems. Joining with people across the country, we combine technical analysis and effective advocacy to create innovative, practical solutions for a healthy, safe, and sustainable future. For more information, go to www.ucsusa.org.

About Environment California

Environment California works for clean air, clean water, clean energy, wildlife and open spaces, and a livable climate. Our members across the state put grassroots support behind our research and advocacy. Environment California is part of Environment America, a national network of 29 state environmental groups. For more information about Environment California visit: www.environmentcalifornia.org.

About the California State Association of Electrical Workers

The California State Association of Electrical Workers is an association of the California IBEW local unions working in the construction and utility industries. About the Coalition of California Utility Employees

The Coalition of California Utility Employees is a coalition of unions who represent employees at nearly all of California’s publicly owned and investor owned electric utilities. The unions have approximately 43,000 members.

About CruiseCruise is an all-electric self-driving technology company with a mission to build the world’s most advanced autonomous vehicles (AVs) to safely connect people to the places, things and experiences they care about. As the operator of the only fully-electric AV fleet in the country, we believe there is great promise in not only our business model, but overall presence. We believe centralized ridesharing fleets can be a sustainable transportation option for Californians who may never own an EV, while quickly electrifying California’s transportation fleet and supporting the further development of EV charging infrastructure.