By Ken Swisher
On Aug. 16, CSULB held a ceremony to recognize a gift of two 240-volt electric vehicle chargers dedicated to Doug Korthof, a passionate advocate for plug-in cars.
Korthof, who passed away in February, was an alumnus and former faculty member at CSULB, where he met his wife, Lisa Rosen. He served as a lecturer in the Information Systems and Mathematics Departments from 1981-87.
His friends and family established the Doug Korthof Memorial Fund as an ongoing tribute to his electrical vehicle (EV) movement contributions. Working with the nonprofit organization Adopt a Charger, the family is sponsoring free public charging on campus.
“Alternative transportation is one of many CSULB sustainable initiatives to reduce our impact on the environment,” said Paul Wingco, CSULB’s energy and sustainability manager. “CSULB is proud to announce a partnership with Adopt a Charger to bring us our first two electric vehicle charging stations for public use. We are grateful to Adopt a Charger and the sponsor Friends of Doug Korthof for their contribution to campus sustainability.”
Korthof’s fight to stop the automaker’s practice of removing plug-in cars from the road is featured in the documentary “Who Killed the Electric Car?” He was unable to prevent General Motors from stopping the EV1, but was able to convince Toyota to allow lessees to purchase their RAV4 EVs, many of which are still on the road 10 years later, proving to car companies and the general public that electrified transportation is a viable alternative to traditional internal combustion vehicles.
Bob Lutz, former General Motors vice chairman and target of Korthof’s EV efforts, had this to say about his former adversary: “We were enemies on the surface, kindred spirits in depth. We’re both opinionated, often wrong, seldom in doubt. He fought for what he believed to be right, and so did I. I respect him for his passion and commitment.”
Lutz went on to champion the Chevy Volt, an extended range electric vehicle that debuted in 2011.
Korthof’s passions ran beyond plug-in vehicles. He was also a strong advocate for solar energy and is well known for leading roles in stopping the offshore dumping of lightly treated municipal sewage in Orange County. He was a moving force to reduce the size and scope of development on the Bolsa Chica Wetlands, the next location selected to receive EV chargers through the fund.
He earned a B.A. degree in math in 1968 and a M.A. in philosophy in 1970, both from CSULB.
Adopt a Charger is a nonprofit organization founded in 2011 to accelerate the widespread adoption of plug-in electric vehicles by broadening the charging infrastructure. Its approach matches a sponsor with a host site located at a popular public destination such as parks, colleges, museums and beaches.