Electric Vehicle Car Sharing Infrastructure in Los Angeles Disadvantaged Communities

Project Summary

Through legislation, California has committed to increase renewable energy production and implement more sustainable transportation models through electric vehicles (EVs). However, EVs are mainly marketed to middle-upper class communities. This project is a direct response to Los Angeles's Electric Vehicle Car-Sharing Pilot Project that will deploy a fleet of mostly EVs in low-income neighborhoods. Through an analysis of carshare models that serve low-income residents, this report identifies practices that have proven to maximize outreach in underserved areas. The results show that with the right pricing structure and parking-selection strategy, the Pilot Project's goals are realistic. Cities can create sustainable transportation networks for working-class communities and promote EVs and their energy infrastructure in areas previously ignored by providers and manufacturers. With the outlined effective strategies, Los Angeles can set an example for other cities. The prevalence of EVs will extend the renewable energy network, offer an alternative to car-ownership for the working poor, and encourage alternative transportation. The shift away from fossil fuel cars and car-ownership will reduce car use, thus curbing greenhouse gas emissions. This project can be used as a blueprint by L.A. and other cities to create their own carshare programs.   

Research Team

Betty Barberena
Urban Planning, Luskin School of Public Affairs

Advisor: Rui Wang
Urban Planning, Luskin School of Public Affairs

Advisor: Matt Petersen
President and CEO of the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI), Former Chief Sustainability Officer for the City of Los Angeles


Los Angeles Mayor's Office of Sustainability

Progress and Results

The analysis of existing models found that a tiered pricing structure for qualified customers and car-share dedicated parking close to dense, affordable housing areas will maximize accessibility and reliability. Barbarena concluded that such a program in Los Angeles is possible and would thrive if it prescribed to the study's findings. Other results showed that low-income programs are popular, and their reach is determined by funding amounts. Findings on payment, program limitations, and eligibility and verification, shape the more nuanced recommendations.

This project produced a best practices report on developing an electric vehicle based carshare program that reaches underserved communities. Barbarena also developed a stakeholder presentation based on the case-studies used to develop the results. The City of Los Angeles will use this work to implement a city EV carsharing program.