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Local College Prepares for Zero Emission Vehicle Future

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A zero-emissions vehicle future was set into motion when Governor Newsom signed an executive order in September to end the sale of all new gas-powered vehicles by 2035. Programs that train mechanics, like one at San Bernardino Valley College, are already adapting. 

Alexander Cruz, has been teaching an intro to hybrid and electric vehicle technology class at San Bernardino Valley College for about a year. Before that he worked with Hyundai to help techs at dealerships across the U.S. diagnose vehicle problems. He said it was eye opening.

“It showed me where the trend of the kind of need was in the industry," said Cruz. "There is definitely a need for more training in electrical diagnosis and especially when it comes to hybrid and electric vehicles. How to diagnose those vehicles as well.”

Cruz says the executive order was not a surprise since insiders knew the industry needed to move toward zero emissions vehicles. San Bernardino Valley College had plans before the order was announced to start offering a clean vehicle technology certificate for both the automotive and heavy-duty truck programs next year. Riverside City College also offers courses on electric and hybrid vehicles within its automotive technician program as does the Rancho Cucamonga branch of the trade school Universal Technical Institute.

Cruz said learning how to safely work with high voltage electricity is a must for future and current mechanics.

“It’s a matter of repeating the safety information and making sure that they are incorporating safety in all of the steps," said Cruz. "And [that] they understand the nature of electricity and they understand what is safe and what is not safe, and what makes a circuit safe and what makes a circuit not safe. Once they understand those things they are now prepared to diagnose and work and repair and rebuild whatever needs to be done.”

California has aggressive policies to address greenhouse gas emissions and zero emissions vehicles are seen as a necessary solution to reduce demand for fossil fuels. Without them, experts say the state cannot meet its climate change goals.

Editors Note: San Bernardino Community College District operates KVCR and San Bernardino Valley College.