Our Take on Tesla’s Gigafactory Decision



Bill Harrison
Mayor, City of Fremont

Now that the media frenzy over Tesla’s recent announcement to locate their Battery “Gigafactory” in Nevada is subsiding, we thought it was time to weigh in. As home to Tesla’s vehicle production operation, many have asked what we think of the decision. Th…

Now that the media frenzy over Tesla’s recent announcement to locate their Battery “Gigafactory” in Nevada is subsiding, we thought it was time to weigh in. As home to Tesla’s vehicle production operation, many have asked what we think of the decision. The truth is that while everyone else was busy speculating about the Gigafactory’s ultimate home, we have been busy supporting their existing manufacturing business, which remains firmly planted in Fremont and continues to expand.  

Of all the articles that theorize about the reasons why Tesla chose Nevada, we think Silicon Valley Business Journal reporter, Lauren Hepler, got it right in her piece, “4 Reasons Tesla’s Gigafactory Went to Nevada Instead of California.” Below are the four reasons she cites along with our own observations.

  • Recent History: When reports surfaced earlier this summer that Tesla had begun construction on a facility in Nevada, it was a pretty big hint to us where the Gigafactory was likely headed.
  • Strategic Geography: Of all the “out-of-state” options Tesla was considering, we think this works most in our favor, given the short drive time and transit connections between Reno and the Bay Area. In fact, Reno has easier access to Fremont than many California locations that may have been contenders for the Gigafactory.
  • CEQA Red Tape: Yes, this was probably an important factor in the decision. We agree with others who have expressed hope that this serves as California’s wake-up call to finally act on CEQA reform.
  • Taxes: What taxes? As Hepler’s article states, Nevada is known for its extraordinarily low taxes. From my position as mayor, I can tell you that cities are often in the position of responding to business prospects about how we can match tax incentives offered elsewhere. California has made great strides in this area with California Competes and other Go-Biz programs, but at the end of the day we offer a different value proposition.

And as a bonus, we would actually add a fifth item to the list:

  • Lithium Mine: Many don't realize that Nevada is home to the country’s only lithium mine—the crucial ingredient in their lithium-ion battery recipe. Considering that Tesla is expected to use about one fifth of the world’s lithium supply, it seems highly likely this was an important determinant and something no other state could offer.

For those who see this as a loss, we’d like to offer a slightly different view. We see this decision (and Tesla’s ability to ramp up battery production quickly) as a very good prospect for supporting their thriving, growing California manufacturing ecosystem, which has yielded thousands of good jobs and put us on the map for revolutionizing the EV industry. We would argue that Tesla’s contribution to and impact on California will be profound for years to come—something we should applaud them for.

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Category: Manufacturing



Bob Linscheid
President & CEO- San Francisco Chamber of Commerce

What if we thought of ourselves as a virtual city of 2 million people with an integrated housing and labor market? This question was lobbed to a group of cities last week, including San Francisco, Fremont, Oakland,Vallejo, and Concord. All of these citie…

What if we thought of ourselves as a virtual city of 2 million people with an integrated housing and labor market?

This question was lobbed to a group of cities last week, including San Francisco, Fremont, Oakland,Vallejo, and Concord. All of these cities share some important characteristics:

  • They are linked by water.
  • They have assets that contribute to the Bay Area’s Innovation Ecosystem.
  • They are served by a robust University System.
  • They have at least one or more major mixed-use development opportunities that will dramatically enhance the innovation profile of the city and region.

The question was posed by Bruce Katz, Director of the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program, co-author of The Metropolitan Revolution, and most recently, author of a special report on The Rise of Innovation Districts. (Editor’s Note: You can see Fremont’s contributions to this dialogue here.)

As the convener of this discussion, the San Francisco Chamber wished to expand beyond its usual economic forecast event. The idea was to proactively engage with its regional partners in hopes that we can leverage our collective assets to function as one “mega” Innovation District.

Bruce Katz validated our belief that the Bay Area’s assets are indeed unparalleled. If we have any downfall, it’s a meager history in working together to collectively market these assets and create meaningful linkages between our fiercely independent and unique communities.

No longer can we rest on the laurels of our Silicon Valley reputation, or the recent dynamism of San Francisco’s technology sector. We need to nurture more nascent success stories, such as the reemergence of manufacturing, and better leverage our collective proximity to Asia.

If water is the connective tissue of our region, then it’s time for us to do some synchronized swimming. Teamwork is imperative to competing at a national and global level and will help us ensure that prosperity reaches all parts of our communities.

Forging a unified brand won’t be easy. As Katz stated, we are approaching work that is “multi-dimensional and multi-sectoral.” However, with common goals around building an aspirational workforce and creative approaches to financing, the Bay Area can lead the nation.

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Category: Manufacturing

The 'Internet of Things' Revolution - What You Need to Know



Michael Keer
Founder and CEO at Product Realization Group

Last week, Product Realization Group (PRG) hosted our Annual Symposium and BBQ, an event that convenes Silicon Valley’s hardware technology community to learn about the latest trends in new product introduction (NPI) from industry experts. As we collectiv…

Last week, Product Realization Group (PRG) hosted our Annual Symposium and BBQ, an event that convenes Silicon Valley’s hardware technology community to learn about the latest trends in new product introduction (NPI) from industry experts. As we collectively sync up our fitbits to our mobile devices or pre-order the new Apple Watch, the choice for this year’s event theme was obvious - “Internet of Things – from Idea to Scale.”

First of all, let’s define this buzzword for anyone still scratching their head about what Internet of Things (IoT) means. According to Wikipedia, IoT refers to the interconnection of uniquely identifiable embedded computing-like devices within the existing Internet infrastructure. That is, everything from heart monitoring devices to smart grid energy solutions to the array of wearables that continues to grow—IoT is truly everywhere. At the Symposium, we were able to break this topic down and explore the market opportunity that IoT has placed on the horizon.

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To put it in perspective, consider the following stats:

  • In 2010, there were less than 2 billion connected devices. Today, there are over 8 billion.
  • With the help of new financing models, like crowdfunding, lean product production and hardware have grown from a $1.5 billion industry in 2011 to a $5.5 billion industry in 2013.
  • There are approximately 4 tweets per minute about “IoT” and Google searches about “IoT” have tripled in the last year.

Yes friends, we are at the beginning of a technology revolution expected to grow tenfold by 2020, thanks largely to the fact that by 2020, the average Silicon Valley family is expected to have over 150 connected devices. And that’s just Silicon Valley!

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So recognizing the market potential is massive in IoT, where does the hardware startup start? Our expert panel shared some sage words of advice. Some of my favorite takeaways:

“Build trust in what you are building. Prototypes prove your idea can be made.” –Kate Drane, High Tech Hardware Lead, Indiegogo

“Clearly identify your users. A cool idea doesn’t go anywhere without them. We are most interested in companies who have everything else in place and all they need is money.” – Salil Pradhan, Venture Partner, Draper Nexus Venture Partners

“We were naïve and blindly optimistic when we chose to develop hardware technology. But resources exist now to make the journey easier.” – John McGuire, CEO/Founder, Active Mind Technology (Game Golf)

Finally, my own advice:

Develop a Product Roadmap. Be sure to include budget, schedule, resources, and key activities. Companies that do this have a much better chance of going from idea to scale, and hitting the big time!

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Category: Startups



Jessica von Borck
Deputy City Manager

Fremont’s Downtown is on the rise, and the City is keeping the momentum going with its most recent event — the “Downtown on the Rise Demolition Celebration,” which took place yesterday morning. City Manager Diaz kicking off the morning celebration at 9…

Fremont’s Downtown is on the rise, and the City is keeping the momentum going with its most recent event — the “Downtown on the Rise Demolition Celebration,” which took place yesterday morning.

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City Manager Diaz kicking off the morning celebration at 9 am.

We invited members of the community and press to witness the demolition of a three-story building, making way for the continued development and expansion of Capitol Avenue.

As announced in July, Capitol Avenue will be extended from State Street to Fremont Boulevard, connecting Downtown Fremont’s retail district between The Fremont Hub and Gateway Plaza.

Kicking off the event was City Manager Fred Diaz, who referred to this event as Fremont awakening the sleeping dragon:

“Last month, there was a terrific piece that ran on KQED about our plans to build a Downtown. It talked about Fremont being a ‘sleeping dragon.’ Well, not anymore. With the City’s two main initiatives underway that include Downtown Fremont and the Warm Springs Innovation District, the demolition of this building represents the awakening of the dragon.”

Following an introduction by City Manager Diaz, Mayor Harrison discussed the implementation of Fremont’s Downtown Community Plan, the process of bringing the City’s vision of a “strategically urban” Downtown to life, and what it has taken to get to this point.

“While the path to getting here today was certainly not an easy ride, it was well worth our perseverance. Earlier this year in April, we acquired this building and worked diligently with the tenants to relocate them to new business locations throughout town.”

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Many gathered to witness the demo, headed up by Top Grade Construction and subcontractor FERMA Corporation.

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Stay tuned as Fremont’s Downtown begins to be realized through additional construction efforts on the expansion of Capitol Avenue, slated to be completed in March 2015.

 

 

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Category: Fremont



Jennifer Chen
Economic Development Coordinator

From Retail to Life Sciences, it takes all sorts of industries to create a vibrant local economy. Fremont’s life sciences companies are working on new technologies to improve lives. From creating new bio-medical devices, to assisting with the healing and …

From Retail to Life Sciences, it takes all sorts of industries to create a vibrant local economy. Fremont’s life sciences companies are working on new technologies to improve lives. From creating new bio-medical devices, to assisting with the healing and the monitoring of illnesses, to discovering new pharmaceutical drugs to cure diseases, the technology is as complex as it is exciting. As an industry follower, I’ve found that these blogs provide current information and are appropriately written for the non-scientist.

 

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LS CONNECT

LS CONNECT is a life sciences industry blog for the Intellectual Property and Science business division of Thomson Reuters. LS CONNECT provides industry insights, commentary, and thought leadership on life sciences subjects. The blog covers a wide array of life science topics and is easily accessible for the casual observer interested in the pharmaceutical industry.

 

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Accenture Life Sciences Blog

Accenture is a multinational management consulting firm, and its Life Sciences blog delivers insights and opinions about opportunities and challenges in the pharmaceutical and medical technology industry. The blog posts are written by Accenture’s life science industry experts who help life sciences companies understand and navigate the increasingly complex healthcare landscape.

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Life Sciences Leader

This magazine and blog focus on providing executives up-to-date information on business trends and policy affecting life sciences. Wayne Koeberstein, a veteran of the industry and executive editor of the magazine and blog, provides his personal commentary on life sciences issues and trends.

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California Academy of Sciences

While this is not a business blog, scientists from the Academy of Sciences share detailed information about research and scientific fieldwork. This is a fun blog for all who are curious about science and sustainability.

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Category: Life Sciences

EXTRA! EXTRA! Click all about it!



Fred Diaz
City Manager

In case you haven’t heard, Fremont has been making plenty of noise in the news lately. From The Argus/San Jose Mercury News to CNET and The Washington Post to a radio broadcast on KQED/NPR — the City has been the focus of a lot of positive attention. And …

In case you haven’t heard, Fremont has been making plenty of noise in the news lately. From The Argus/San Jose Mercury News to CNET and The Washington Post to a radio broadcast on KQED/NPR — the City has been the focus of a lot of positive attention. And we’re not surprised.   

With the approval of the Warm Springs Community Plan, the first stages of construction for the new Downtown, and the new BART Station in South Fremont, there has been considerable information to share with the greater Silicon Valley community and beyond. I am proud that Fremont is getting recognized for all the work we’re doing to increase the economic vibrancy and long-term sustainability of our city.

As we keep moving forward, look out for continued blog commentary about these developments and other projects. If you’d like to hear more about what the press has been saying about Fremont, you can catch our latest media hits below:

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 When a factory leaves town: in the shadow of Silicon Valley, a city reels from job losses

 

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 Fremont’s Search for a Downtown – and for Stronger Link to Silicon Valley

 

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Vexed in the city: Silicon Valley’s invasion of San Francisco

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Fremont’s Warm Springs Industrial Area Blossoming Into Vibrant Community

 

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Fremont moves to create new downtown’s ‘Main Street’

Fremont plans retail, housing near City Hall

Fremont’s Innovation Center coming into view, as Warm Springs BART station on track for late 2015

 

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 Fremont approves new ‘innovation district’ plan around BART station, Tesla Motors

 If you are not a subscriber to our blog, Takes From Silicon Valley East, please signup now!

 

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Category: Fremont

Let’s Get to Work! Regional Workforce Observations



Patti Castro
Assistant Director, Alameda County Workforce Investment Board

As we all return from the Labor Day Holiday having celebrated the end of summer with friends and family, it’s probably fair to say I spent more time reflecting on the spirit of the holiday than most. That’s because at the Alameda County Workforce Investme…

As we all return from the Labor Day Holiday having celebrated the end of summer with friends and family, it’s probably fair to say I spent more time reflecting on the spirit of the holiday than most. That’s because at the Alameda County Workforce Investment Board (ACWIB), our sole mission is to develop and lead the current and future East Bay workforce to quality and fulfilling employment opportunities. What surprises many is that we don’t just serve job seekers, but we also devote equal attention to employers, assisting them with a range of workforce needs. 

Through our one-stop centers, workforce clients can receive training, education, employment leads, and access to labor market information. Our services aim to help our workforce clients enter into unsubsidized employment, retain jobs, develop skills, and obtain post-secondary degrees. Business clients receive training assistance, access to talented job seekers and specialized consulting services, including information about hiring incentives. In addition to delivering traditional services, ACWIB also conducts economic and labor market research to influence and inform local economic and workforce development within the region.

For example, with so much activity and growth in the region’s manufacturing sector, we recently examined manufacturing workforce trends. As the graphics below illustrate, the results were enlightening, and we think this information helps support the case for continued manufacturing expansion and the re-shoring of specialized processes. In analyzing labor statistics and job advertisements, it turns out there are nearly 56,000 manufacturing jobs in our region. The positions split broadly into three categories: electronic, mechanical, and utility. They also split evenly into “entry level,” “mid-tier,” and “senior,” suggesting that there are tremendous career pathway opportunities for students coming out of high school or community college. 

For a closer look at this region’s industry cluster workforce trends, read our recent in-depth Report on the topic. We look forward to using this research to inform our programs and partners — including our specialized career centers focusing on high growth sectors such as advanced manufacturing, healthcare, biotechnology, ICT, transportation, and logistics, among others. As is often the case in economic development, strong partnerships with business leaders, academia, and the community are the foundation of our work. If you have workforce needs, chances are we can help with a solution. So let’s work together today (no pun intended!) to maintain our region’s economic competitiveness by ensuring a qualified workforce to meet tomorrow’s demand.

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Category: Fremont

Labor Day Special:A Bucket of Crab, and First-time Restaurant Advice



Kelly Kline
Economic Development Director

Cut the Crab. Seriously! With a fantastic name — and an interior that will transport you straight to the docks of the bay — Fremont’s first restaurant devoted to Cajun-inspired crustaceans opened on August 1 to rave Yelp reviews. We recently chatted with …

Cut the Crab. Seriously! With a fantastic name — and an interior that will transport you straight to the docks of the bay — Fremont’s first restaurant devoted to Cajun-inspired crustaceans opened on August 1 to rave Yelp reviews. We recently chatted with owner Leroy Le and his Ivy Commercial Realtors, Tim Tran and David Tran of the Ivy Group, about opening a first-time restaurant, and what it takes to be successful.  

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Tim Tran, Leroy, and David Tran (Left – Right)

Q: Leroy, Cut the Crab (CTC) is your first restaurant, although it sure doesn’t look like one! What was your background before deciding to open your own place?

A: My parents owned a Vietnamese/Thai fusion restaurant in Sacramento when I was growing up. They offered 40+ dishes for both lunch and dinner. Needless to say, they are retired now! I took on this project with my wife who had the inspiration for the “pier” influenced interior. Everything was custom-made from the lanterns to the wood booths. The concept was three years in the making and plays on the current popularity of fresh crab.

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Custom made interior décor influenced by beach pier decor

Q: Tell us more about Cut the Crab.

A: Well, the name certainly gets people’s attention! This creativity extends to the menu where you can order the “Holy Crab Bucket” that serves three people for a reasonable price. 

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“Holy Crab Bucket”

Our raw bar, which is the largest in the East Bay, serves different kinds of fresh oysters daily. We have a warm, friendly, “hanging out” vibe, and are focused on consistent quality.

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 Largest raw oyster bar in the East Bay

Q: Tim and David, we’ve heard that Fremont wasn’t necessarily your first choice to site this restaurant. How did you end up with this location?

A: Our first focus was North San Jose. However, San Jose has more competition in this category. When this location opened up, we realized there is a significant gap for this niche in the East Bay. We considered a number of important factors: parking, rents, readiness of the space, and the landlord’s willingness to take on a first-time business. This site met all the criteria. We also knew that the audience for crab is very serious and will come from a larger radius to get fresh fish.

Q: Retail real estate can be tough. How do you help your clients navigate their choices?

A: You can’t circumvent the basics — accessibility is key, and so are strong demographics. A check at Cut the Crab can run $100+, so the demographics need to match. Having the right equipment and amenities is also important — not to mention code compliance! We provide a full cost analysis so that business owners can weigh and prioritize the trade-offs of different spaces. At the end of the day, relationships are key — both to making the deal, and to putting together the team that will improve the space. Patience is also key. So is follow-up.

Q: Leroy, what advice do you have for other first-time restaurant owners?

A: My advice for those with a restaurant dream is to stay away ... really! This is a tough, 12-hour a day job. But, it’s also lots of fun. I really enjoy seeing our customers enjoy the food. 

Q: Any future plans?

A: We definitely see ourselves expanding in the Bay Area — San Jose, Oakland, and San Francisco, and perhaps the North Bay. In the immediate term, I’m looking to import “ghost peppers,” the ultimate lip burner! CTC already serves five different levels of spicy ranging from non-spicy to “smokin’ hot.” Ghost peppers are literally off the charts. They attract customers like David who have been known to compete in food challenges like “the Walk of Flame.”

One thing is clear, if he keeps serving up tasty buckets of crab, the Walk of Fame will be just around the corner for Leroy Le.  

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CTC’s menu

Looking for something fun to do over the Labor Day Weekend? Come to Cut the Crab at 4949 Stevenson Blvd. and taste for yourself.  

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Category: Fremont

Our Favorite Blogs Part 3: Retail and Real Estate



Kelly Kline
Economic Development Director

It’s tough keeping up with the latest retail trends and real estate transactions. Never fear, there are a plethora of blog and newsletter options to keep you up-to-speed. Here are a few choice selections from my own inbox. Retail Newsline This is a w…

It’s tough keeping up with the latest retail trends and real estate transactions. Never fear, there are a plethora of blog and newsletter options to keep you up-to-speed. Here are a few choice selections from my own inbox.

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Retail Newsline

This is a weekly blog authored by Garrick Brown (aka “@RetailWizard”). Brown is one of the retail industry’s premiere researchers. As the data guru for Terranomics/Cassidy Turley, Garrick tracks the retail trends with the fervor of a data geek — a reputation he’s earned with his fabulous bow ties! However, he’s also not shy about sharing his broader observations.

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GlobeStreet.com

GlobeStreet.com covers the real estate industry and its many subcategories. Specifically, you can subscribe to the “Retail Leader” email for breaking retail news. Over the years I’ve read many of its featured blogs, including “Executive Watch,” which focuses on the recruitment and retention of talent in the real estate industry, and “Ms. Real Estate” for those with perplexing real estate questions.

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 ICSC Blog

The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) is a worldwide trade organization dedicated to the retail industry. It regularly blogs about new retail concepts, Q&A’s with industry leaders, and broader industry trends. Want to find out more about the Baloco Burrito or The Organic Pharmacy? This is the place.

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Nation’s Restaurant News Reporter’s Notebook

For all the foodies out there, here’s a chance to upgrade your cocktail conversation! Nation’s Restaurant News is THE source for the food service industry, and in this “newsroom” blog, NRN editors give their points of view on news happening in the restaurant business.


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BisNow

With the tagline “(almost) never boring” you’ve got to love the informal gossip-style approach to reporting on the real estate industry. And, as a nod to the relationship side to the business, BisNow often features the people behind the deals — showing their outside interests and pursuits.

Bay Area Heavyweights

Not to be left out are the Bay Area’s go-to publications featuring stellar real estate reporting — the Silicon Valley Business Journal, the San Francisco Business Times, and The Registry — all of which have daily or weekly online summaries.

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Category: Fremont



Rachel DiFranco
Sustainability Coordinator

As the East Bay’s electric vehicle capital, the City of Fremont is proud to have hosted a very successful electric vehicle ride-and-drive event on Saturday, August 9 at the Pacific Commons Shopping Center. With nearly 300 electric vehicle test drives and …

As the East Bay’s electric vehicle capital, the City of Fremont is proud to have hosted a very successful electric vehicle ride-and-drive event on Saturday, August 9 at the Pacific Commons Shopping Center. With nearly 300 electric vehicle test drives and more than 500 event attendees, the Fremont “Experience Electric­—The Better Ride” event provided residents with the opportunity to view and test drive the newest EVs on the market.

 

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Signage for Experience Electric

"The residents of Fremont were a knowledgeable and energetic group of test drivers.  We had folks showing up before we opened and many staying right up until after we closed,” said event partner Maureen Blanc of Charge Across Town. “It was, by far, one of our more successful events." Vehicles test driven included the Nissan Leaf, Ford Focus, Ford CMax Energi, Ford Fusion Energi, BMW i3, Chevy Volt, and Chevy Spark and Toyota RAV4 EV. Also on display were the Fiat 500e, Cadillac ELR, Smart Car and Via Motors Shuttle Van, as well as the Fremont-based Tesla Model S and GenZe electric scooter and e-bike.

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Via Motors Shuttle Van

To date, there are currently more than 26,000 electric vehicle drivers in the Bay Area, 1,752 of which are City of Fremont residents. With 14 percent of Alameda County’s total population, Fremont residents drive 31 percent of all of the EVs in the county. In fact, Fremont’s 94539 zip code is home to more electric vehicles than any other single zip code in California.

Not only are EVs gaining in popularity, but they are also becoming increasingly competitive in terms of cost with conventional vehicles, and may qualify for the California Clean Vehicle Rebate of up to $2,500 as well as a Federal Tax Credit of up to $7,500. Electric vehicles cost about one-fourth  the amount of electricity to travel the same distance as a conventional gas vehicle, and they emit one-third fewer greenhouse gases in the process. When charged at home with a solar electric system rather than from the electric grid, these vehicles become GHG emission-free. Plus, EV drivers in California get the added bonus of the Clean Air Vehicle sticker, allowing them access to HOV (carpool) lanes.

To learn more about electric vehicles, visit www.fremont.gov/EVs.

A list of upcoming Bay Area “Experience Electric” events can be found online at http://energycenter.org/experienceelectric/events

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Category: Fremont

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About

Welcome to our blog – Takes from Silicon Valley East!  Our view is slightly different here on the east side of the bay – from the Mission Peak backdrop to the advanced manufacturing companies that dot our boulevards. As we become more urban and strive to interpret the business issues affecting our innovation economy, we want to share with you our observations, insights, photos, arguments, agreements, inspirations and CEO interviews – and here on our blog is exactly where we plan to do this.

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