What we found is encouraging: more than half of California drivers are likely to consider an electric vehicle (EV) in their next vehicle purchase or lease, and more than 65 percent are interested in electric vehicles generally. These survey results should be encouraging news to automakers that are offering EVs or set to bring new EV models to market.
While over 200,000 EVs have been sold in the state, plug-in electric vehicle sales in California today only represent about 3 percent of the new vehicle market. The survey shows that the electric market has real potential for growth. It’s also validation that the interest in offerings like Tesla’s Model 3 shows a much broader desire for EVs in California than some had thought.
How many Californians could potentially use one of today’s plug-in hybrid electric vehicles? Our survey shows that 44 percent of California households could use an electric vehicle with little or no change to their current driving habits and vehicle needs, so there should be plenty of room for the EV market to grow in California. Survey respondents met the criteria for using a typical plug-in hybrid if they have access to parking and an electrical outlet at home, need to carry less than five occupants, and do not need hauling or towing capability.
The survey results also give some insight on what Californians want to see when buying an electric vehicle. The survey suggests that the availability of vehicles to test drive is critical to EV sales, as 86 percent of survey respondents said they wouldn’t buy a new vehicle without test-driving it first. So making sure dealers have EVs in stock and able to drive is an important factor in helping car buyers choose an electric drive car.
Also, over 65 percent of Californians want more electric options, including EVs across a variety of classes, including sedans, SUVs and minivans. More than half think that every automaker should offer a plug-in model for sale. In California, buyers have more choices than everywhere else in the country, with over 20 models of EVs to choose from, including a number of SUVs like the Tesla Model X, Volvo XC90 Twin Engine, and the BMW X5 eDrive. On the other hand, major automakers like Honda and Toyota currently don’t offer plug-in electric vehicles in the U.S., limiting consumer choice.
Another opportunity for growth in EVs is to increase awareness of both the vehicles and current incentives. Both automakers and state officials can do a better job of letting drivers know about existing EV incentives. More than three quarters of California drivers didn’t know the state offers any plug-in electric vehicle incentives, and almost 80 percent weren’t aware of the federal EV tax credit. Together, these programs can lower the purchase price of a plug-in vehicle by over $10,000.
California is already a leader in EVs, but this survey shows that we can do even better with EVs in the state. Continuing the policies and incentives that have got us here will help. Having more vehicle options and better consumer knowledge will also be key to take advantage of this untapped potential of consumer interest in electric cars.]]>
But the benefits of EVs aren’t just far off in the future. Electric vehicles are saving gasoline and making significant reductions in emissions right now.
That’s how much gasoline we estimate that the 200,000 battery electric and plug-in hybrids avoid burning each year in California. That’s the equivalent to 7,000 tanker trucks worth of gasoline unused each year as drivers avoid gasoline stations for the convenience of plugging in at home or at work. At an average gasoline price over the past year of $3.09 gallon vs. $0.17 per kWh for electricity, it’s also about $81,000,000 per year that drivers save by recharging their EVs versus paying at the pump. That’s a lot of money each year that is staying in California drivers’ pockets and not going out of state and country.
Those 200,000 electric cars are also helping reduce global warming emissions.
Burning a gallon of gasoline produces almost 20 pounds of CO2, and all of the other steps between crude oil and the gasoline pump (like refining and delivering gasoline) add another 5 pounds per gallon for a total of about 24 pounds of CO2 for each gallon used. Electric motors are emissions free, but making electricity can also produce CO2. However, California has some of the cleanest electricity in the nation, with the average electric vehicle producing emissions equal to 87 mpg gasoline car, even when we account for all the emissions produced in generating electricity.
Altogether, California’s fleet of 200,000 EVs will reduce carbon emissions by about 425,000 metric tons of CO2 this year. That’s equal to the CO2 from burning 2,300 railcars worth of coal!
The amount of gasoline and emissions saved in the state will only grow over time. These reductions will get larger as both the number of EVs grow and the electricity in the state gets cleaner.
The rate of EV sales in California is likely to continue to increase as charging infrastructure grows and also with the over 20 models of plug-in vehicles now available. New models like GM’s Bolt, Tesla’s Model 3 and the new plug-in Prius Prime should also keep the number of EVs growing. Strong EV policies, like the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project and the Zero Emission Vehicles program are also key to continuing the growth of EV sales in the state.
California’s electricity will also get cleaner in the future, making the gap in emissions between EVs and conventional vehicles only wider. With 50% of electricity set to come from renewable sources by 2030, the gap between driving on gasoline and electricity will only grow.
California’s 200,000 EVs is a great start, but it’s just the beginning of the transformation of our transportation system away from using oil to ensure a healthier and more prosperous future. To learn more about how electric vehicles are an important part of plans to cut California’s oil use in half, take a look at our recent analysis : “Half the Oil: Pathways to Reduce Petroleum Use on the West Coast”.
Featured photo: Steve Jurvetson]]>
In cold weather, all cars get less efficient. For gasoline-powered cars, factors like cold engine oil and increased idling can reduce fuel economy in freezing conditions by 20% or more. Overall, electric cars are more efficient than gasoline cars because an electric motor is much more efficient in turning stored electricity into motion than an internal combustion engine is in converting the chemical energy of gasoline to mechanical energy.
You can see (or feel) this inefficiency when considering the energy lost in the form of heat that leaves a gasoline car through the tailpipe and radiator. That heat is energy from the gasoline that is wasted. About 60% of the energy from gasoline is turned into heat, while only about 20% goes to drive the wheels. However, when temperatures dip, this “waste” heat is used to warm the cabin.
A battery electric car lacks a wasteful (but warm) engine, so an electric heating system (either a resistive heater or heat pump) is needed to keep the inside climate toasty on a chilly day. This electricity for heating will come from the same battery that’s used to power the electric drivetrain, so the effective range will drop in cold weather (assuming the driver chooses to use the heater).
Not all of the loss in range is due to the climate control system. Batteries also have lower performance as the temperature dips due to the impact of the temperature on mobility of electrons through the battery. To keep performance and reduce accelerated aging of the batteries, many EVs have a thermal management system that keeps the battery warmed (or cooled in hot temps) to an optimum temperature range. Warming the battery pack takes power that reduces range. Heating the cabin and battery combined can increase the auxiliary power load on an EV like the Nissan LEAF from below 1 kW to almost 3kW as the temp goes from 68 ºF to 10 ºF.
There are ways to reduce the impact of cold temperatures on the performance and range of EVs. One is to heat the cabin and/or battery before unplugging the car. This “preconditioning” of the EV can even be done by a smartphone or watch app on some cars. It’s similar to the use of engine block heaters and remote start systems used on gasoline cars (though without the exhaust of an idling engine). Grid electricity is used by the EV to warm the battery and interior, so that more of the car’s stored electricity can go to driving the wheels.
Electric vehicles are also getting better at cold temperature performance. For example, using high efficiency heat pumps can provide cabin heating with much less drain on the battery than a resistive heater. Other design improvements can help such as using heat from the electric motor and power control electronics to heat the battery and/or the vehicle cabin. These types of improvements have typically been found in EVs that were designed from the start to use an electric drivetrain, so we should see these more efficient features become more common as more manufacturers build “EV-only” models like the Chevy Bolt and BMW i3.
So how do EVs work in the real world for people in cold climes? The EV fleet management company Fleet Carma has tracked trips in the Nissan LEAF in Canada and the U.S. and found that overall range drops from close to 80 miles in shirtsleeve weather to 50-60 miles when driven in below freezing conditions.
This is a noticeable drop, but still leaves enough range for many drivers. For example, our survey of U.S. drivers found that 54% reported daily driving of less than 40 miles and 69% drive less than 60 miles on the average day. For a longer range EV, like the Tesla Model S or the upcoming Chevy Bolt, the impact of cold weather is likely to be less of an issue. These cars have more total range available, so any loss of range will impact driving utility less and offer drivers ample battery capacity to run both the motor and heaters for extended drives. For example, Telsa reports that their Model S 70D model loses about 19% range when driving in 0 degree Fahrenheit weather with the heater on, reducing the range to 195 miles.
To see if EVs work in cold weather, one can look at the example of Norway. Norway’s generous incentives for EVs has made electric vehicles popular in this Nordic country. Over 70,000 EVs have been sold in Norway, and EVs made up over 20% of all new cars sold in the first 9 months of 2015. Subsidies are a major reason for these high EV sales rates, but drivers wouldn’t be picking these cars if they didn’t work for their driving needs. Not only are Norwegians picking EVs, but also many of them are choosing shorter range EVs from Nissan and Volkswagen, despite the sub-freezing average winter temperatures. EVs are also working closer to home in colder climates like Canada and Vermont.
One Chevy dealer in Quebec has even moved his dealership to selling mostly Chevy Volt plug-in hybrids.
EV performance is impacted by cold weather, but an electric vehicle can be a good choice for many Americans, even those in the northern reaches of the country. And in the Northwest and Northeast states EV drivers can access some of the cleanest electricity in the country, greatly reducing emissions from driving (use our EV tool to calculate emissions in your local area). Affordable longer range EVs will make cold weather even less of an issue—but even today’s EVs are working all-year round in every state in the nation.]]>
While we don’t know the big announcements yet, here are a few of the industry trends I’ll be expecting to see more of this week:
I’ll expect to hear some more news about the current (and future?) gasoline efficiency leader, the Toyota Prius. The newest edition of the Prius is rumored to get 55 MPG and variants may be even better. The high efficiency of the Prius comes from a number of sources: a very efficient engine, systems that turn off the engine when not needed, and redesigned components that are lighter but just as functional.
However, fuel saving technology is also showing up in pickups, sports cars, and SUVs. For example, the 2016 Chevrolet Camaro includes a fuel-saving 4-cylinder turbocharged engine in the base model. The V-6 model includes a cylinder deactivation system that essentially turns off 2 cylinders when not needed to increase efficiency.
Turbocharged engines in general are becoming more popular across the board. The LA Auto Show will have the debut of a new Honda Civic coupe with an available turbo while Ford just announced that they are on track to sell 1 million cars with some version of the “Ecoboost” turbo engine. The Ecoboost engine is now available in almost every Ford passenger model, including their highly popular F-150 pickup truck. The F-150 truck is also an example of a vehicle that shed weight without losing strength to increase fuel efficiency, in this case replacing significant amounts of steel with aluminum.
All of these technologies show that meeting the national fuel economy standards is achievable with today’s technology. In fact, a number of cars and trucks are already meeting or exceeding the 2020 federal emissions standard.
The number of plug-in vehicles available in the US continues to grow, and there should be more announcements at the show. For example, I expect more news about the Hyundai Sonata plug-in hybrid at the auto show. I also wouldn’t be surprised to hear more news about BMW’s efforts to electrify it’s fleet with plug-in versions of the X5 SUV and 3-series sedans likely to hit the US soon. Toyota is also expected to release a new version of its Prius Plug-In model for 2017, but it might be too early for details. We also might get more hints about the 200-mile range electric vehicles expected from GM and Nissan in the next 18 months.
While we don’t know the details about the new vehicles yet, what we do know is that these vehicles will be among the most efficient vehicles on the road and have lower emissions than their gasoline counterparts. Our most recent report on the emissions from electric vehicles shows that both the vehicles and the electric grid are getting cleaner, trends we expect to continue.
The new Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel cell vehicle will be at the show. The Mirai sedan is driven by an electric motor and can go over 300 miles between fill-ups for long-range, low emissions. The first consumer deliveries started less than a month ago and Toyota will be slowing rolling out the car as the hydrogen filling stations come online in California.
The Mirai is the first vehicle built from the start as a fuel cell vehicle, but it should have company soon, as Honda will be bringing its prototype of the Clarity fuel cell model to LA. The Clarity should have similar long-range performance as the Mirai and also boasts a new space-saving fuel cell design that allows all of the key powertrain components to fit under the hood. This should allow for more passenger space and also make it easier to design future fuel cell vehicles.
I’m looking forward to hear the announcements from the automakers this week. We don’t know the details, but given current trends we should see a lot of new cars that are more efficient and less polluting than ever before. The technology in these new vehicles means that automakers have the tools needed to meet both the national Corporate Average Fuel Economy standard and the requirements of the Zero Emission Vehicle program.
Featured photo: Infiniti Global]]>
The number of electric cars on the road in the U.S. continues to climb, with over 350,000 sold since the first models from major manufacturers were released in December 2010. The number of EV models has grown to over 20 different plug-in models available from 16 brands. This month also marks the introduction of Toyota’s Mirai fuel cell electric vehicle, further broadening the types of clean, electric motor-driven vehicles that are replacing gasoline-powered vehicles across the country.
We are at an exciting point in the development of the plug-in EV market as EV mainstays like the Nissan LEAF, Chevy Volt, and Toyota Plug-in Prius are now transitioning to updated versions that will make it easier to drive on electricity. The Chevy Volt is getting a complete refresh with important additions like a 5th seat and an increase in electric range to 53 miles before the gasoline engine kicks in, up from the previous models 38 mile electric range. Nissan will have a new LEAF available as a 2017 model, and the 2016 model gets an important spec change with the availability of a larger battery pack to get over 100 miles of range on a single charge. The Plug-in Prius from Toyota should also get significant improvements in 2017. Toyota has released few details on updates to either the plug-in or standard Prius models, but many expect better range and fuel economy from the 2017 editions.
Gas prices in most of the U.S. have been trending lower this year and EV sales have also slowed somewhat this summer. It’s easy to see why one would link the two trends, however the true picture is more complex. Lower gasoline prices may impact EV sales, but so too may model life cycles. The Volt, LEAF, and Plug-in Prius are three of the top four most popular EV models in the United States, and all three are wrapping up production of 2015 models that will be replaced by more capable new versions. This changeover has impacted sales, with dealer inventory dropping and consumers waiting for new models to become available. As a result, third quarter sales dropped by over half for these models when compared to 2014. However, the sales for all other EVs (excluding these three models) grew by over 25% compared to the same time last year, at a time when gasoline prices were falling.
Clearly gasoline prices aren’t the only driver for EV sales, nor should we expect them to be. Most EVs are thriving not just due to savings on fuel costs, but because they represent innovative technology, the convenience of never going to a gasoline station, high performance, and the desire for many to live a more sustainable life.
Prediction is hard, especially about the future. But there are some trends that could accelerate the growth of EV sales.
First, Nissan, GM, and Tesla are all expected to release EVs with 200-mile ranges at an affordable price point. This range should make EVs fit into almost everyone’s daily driving needs with no anxiety over running out of charge. These cars will make the market for battery electric much larger than it is today.
Second, we are starting to see a diversity of EV models. For example, Mitsubishi is planning on bringing its plug-in SUV (a best seller in Europe) to the U.S. next year and Chrysler is planning on a plug-in minivan for 2017. These cars, combined with vehicles like the Tesla Model X crossover, will mean that more and more shoppers will be able to choose an electric vehicle for their next car. And as automakers get more experience building electric drivetrains, we’ll see plug-in vehicles offered across the car companies’ line-ups.
We’ve made a good start, and the future looks promising for EVs – but the market is at a critical point in its evolution. Policies, like California’s zero-emission vehicle program, are clearly continuing to have a big influence on the market. Only some of the 22 plug-in models are available in all 50 states; the majority of models are only available in California or other states that have adopted similar vehicle requirements. Consumer incentives are also playing a critical role – access to car pool lanes, rebates and tax credits are making more people take a look at EVs and making the decision to try something new. That’s why it’s important that we continue current policies that increase the choices for consumers and provide incentives to help get more drivers to switch from gasoline to electric drive.]]>
So how did we get here? Electric cars have seen big advances in the past five years, but the journey to today’s electric cars stretches back a century, and it’s a fascinating story. The details are laid out in the new book “Car Wars” by John Fialka, a former Wall Street Journal reporter and the founder of ClimateWire.
In the early 1900s, both gasoline and electric cars shared the nascent automobile market. Ironically, one of the chief reasons that the gasoline car was able to win out over the early electrics was the invention of the electric starter motor. The starter motor eliminated one of the major drawbacks of the gasoline car: the need to start it with a hand crank at the front bumper (which could be tiring, messy, and downright dangerous). Gasoline cars were also cheaper; by about 1920, electric cars virtually disappeared from U.S. roads.
From there, Car Wars picks up in late sixties, with a bet between MIT and Caltech. The challenge was to race across the country to each other’s campus using electric vehicles. From the West Coast, a VW Microbus loaded with lead-acid car battery headed east, while a Chevy Corvair loaded with state-of-the-art nickel-cadmium batteries set off from MIT. It took almost 9 days for the winner to arrive at MIT. Both teams struggled with technical problems that were bound to arise from pushing batteries and motors to their limits and beyond. However, they did show that electric cars could be the “car of the future”.
It took another race, this one in the late 80’s between solar-powered cars in Australia, to lead to commercial EVs on the road in the U.S. The winning “Sunraycer” entry eventually led to General Motors developing the EV1, the first mass-produced electric vehicle from a major automotive company. While the demise of the EV1 has been documented elsewhere, Car Wars traces how the push for electric cars continued, both in the big car companies and through start-ups and inventors that birthed companies like Tesla. Throughout the book, Fialka does a nice job of both explaining the technologies responsible for the current EV revolution as well as the people and personalities involved.
There are almost as many setbacks as triumphs in the stories told in Car Wars. But by the end, it’s obvious that electrification is here to stay. Sales of EVs in the U.S. now total over 350,000 cars, electric vehicles are starting to make inroads in motorsports like the Formula E races, and research and development in EV technology is moving quicker now than at any other time. Check out your local Drive Electric Week event to see some of the winners from Car Wars yourself!
Here are a couple of the shortcomings:
An important missing piece in the analysis are the “upstream” emissions. These are the global warming emissions and air pollution generated during the extraction and processing of fuels. Both electricity and gasoline have upstream emissions (like coal mining, crude oil production, gasoline refining, and trucking of fuel to the gas station), and they can be significant. For gasoline vehicles, 22% of global warming pollution, 44% of particulate matter, 59% of nitrous oxides, and almost all of the sulfur oxides are produced in these upstream processes, so ignoring them gives an incomplete picture. The location of the upstream emissions would also change the results of this study, as not all of the gasoline emissions would occur in the counties where the vehicles are driven.
There is also a questionable assumption about vehicle performance. The authors argue that electric vehicles are less efficient in low temperatures and therefore reduce the electric vehicle efficiency in regions with colder climates. This is a correct assumption, but they neglect to perform a similar correction for gasoline and hybrid vehicle performance. Since all vehicles are less efficient at colder temperatures, applying this penalty only to electric vehicles biases the results to favor gasoline vehicles.
Finally, the analysis is based on historical emissions from fossil fuel powered electricity generation. This ignores both the on-going shift away from coal-powered electricity and the current policies that encourage and require less coal and more renewable power. For example, the paper does not consider the caps on both air pollution and global warming emissions in several regions. In the future we can expect to see both cleaner electric power and also policies and technologies that link electric vehicle charging to renewable energy availability.
So what would changing these assumptions do to the results? We can’t know exactly, but the researchers did examine the sensitivity of their results to some of these assumptions.
In the baseline case, the average environmental benefit is calculated to be equal to -0.46 cents/miles (that, is gasoline cars are cleaner). However, removing the temperature penalty from electric vehicles increases their benefits by 0.14 cents/mile. We can’t tell what the impact of considering both electricity and gasoline upstream emissions is, but they do calculate that doubling the gasoline emissions would change the results so that gasoline vehicles and EVs would be approximately equal. Most importantly, the paper also examines a future power scenario where both somewhat cleaner power is available and more efficient gasoline vehicles are the norm. In this case, electric vehicles have a net benefit of 0.64 cents/mile. Taking into account upstream emissions, vehicle performance, and future cleaner power would likely show a benefit across much more of the country. It also highlights the importance of moving forward with both electric vehicles and renewable electricity, two technologies that are available and expanding in the United States.
Outside of the technical assumptions, I also have to question the comparison of the single vehicle environmental benefit to the federal and state purchase incentives. As the authors note, “The subsidies reflect beliefs that electric vehicles generate a range of benefits including: decreased reliance on imported oil, insulation from oil price shocks, and a reduction in environmental impacts.” Yet, only this last benefit is assessed in this study, so it’s unclear why the total subsidy is used as the comparison.
Moreover, the current electric vehicle incentives are not just designed to sell cars today. The more important effect is to spur research, build demand for electric vehicle charging infrastructure, and increase awareness of petroleum-free transportation options.
We need both clean electricity AND clean vehicles and that’s why we advocate for both. Currently, the average electric vehicle results in lower global warming emissions when compared to the average new gasoline car, no matter where in U.S. it’s recharged. In many places EVs are better than the most efficient gasoline car. And as the production of electricity becomes cleaner, so will electric cars.
Update: Eric Jaffe at CityLab just wrote an excellent piece covering some of these same issues. Find it here.]]>
Now California is poised to make buying electric vehicles an option for more people through new investments and incentive programs.
The state collects funds into a Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund from the sale of carbon permits; decisions are underway about how to invest the proceeds. Transportation accounts for more than 35% of California’s climate emissions, so it makes sense to make sizeable investments in cleaning up cars, trucks, and buses. Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed putting $350 million towards these clean transportation programs for the next fiscal year to expand the number of clean cars and trucks on the road.
California has had programs in place to help make electric cars more affordable since 2010. For example, the Clean Vehicle Rebate Program (CVRP) has provided over 100,000 rebates to buyers of plug-in hybrids and battery electric vehicles. The state will consider extending and expanding this successful program at the June 25 meeting of the Air Resources Board.
To grow the number of electric vehicle buyers, the board is considering several initiatives specifically targeted at less affluent car shoppers. This is a critical step because offering incentives to lower-income people will allow them to reap the benefits of electric vehicle ownership and put them on the road to long-term fuel savings.
For example, the CVRP program would add an additional $1,500 rebate for qualifying low-income buyers of both plug-in hybrid and battery electric cars, financed in part by a new provision eliminating rebates for the highest-income EV purchasers. Previously, the wealthiest consumers did not face an income cut-off for claiming a rebate.
In addition to the CVRP incentive, the Air Resources Board plans to supplement an existing “cash for clunkers” program (the Enhanced Fleet Modernization Program) with a new voucher that lets qualifying Californians trade in polluting older cars for new electric vehicles. Participants in disadvantaged communities within areas with the worst air quality (Central Valley and Los Angeles) can get up to $12,000 towards a newer clean car, and will also save money by replacing gasoline with cheaper electricity.
Getting older cars off the road can be a very effective strategy for reducing air pollution, as vehicles that are 20 years old and older account for only 5 percent of all miles traveled in California, but are responsible for 40 percent of daily smog forming emissions from motor vehicles.
Cars are not the only vehicles getting cleaner, as California makes investments to clean up trucks, buses, and freight. The majority of the funding is directed towards communities that bear the brunt of current air pollution, like the areas surrounding ports, rail yards, and freeways. Clean freight projects will help companies add electric and hybrid trucks to their fleets to reduce the amount of diesel that is burned.
I asked my colleague Don Anair, a freight expert, about this and he said: “ The trucks, trains and ships that move goods in California are responsible for an estimated $20 billion in air pollution-related public health costs each year and are a growing source of climate emissions. These early, targeted investments in cleaner freight technologies will help speed commercialization and deployment that are needed to meet California’s air quality and climate challenges over the next several decades.”
Extending existing programs, combined with the innovative new efforts targeting lower income Californians will bring more potential buyers into the EV market and continue the efforts to clean up transportation in California.]]>
In the U.S. there have been over 310,000 electric vehicles sold to date. In 2014, over 59,000 new plug-ins were sold in California alone, bringing the state’s total to 130,500 ZEV over the last 5 years. These cars are reducing gasoline use by 36 million gallons, fuel spending by $77 million, and global warming emissions by 280,000 metric tons of CO2, each year in California.
New models also continue to be introduced, with the first EVs from Audi and Volvo expected to go on sale this year alongside a redesigned Chevy Volt. More models from Mercedes, Tesla, and Mitsubishi are expected by this time next year. With 20 models of plug-in vehicles already available, customers have more and more choices for clean (and fun to drive) cars.
Plug-in cars are also getting cleaner, as both more efficient electric vehicles are introduced and electricity gets cleaner. UCS estimates that 60% of the Americans live where driving the average EV is cleaner than the most-efficient gasoline-only car, up from 45% in our prior assessment in 2012.
EV sales in California. Data Source: California New Car Dealers Association.
A second type of EV, the hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle, is starting to be sold in California. The Hyundai Tucson went on sale last year in limited quantities and Toyota’s Mirai fuel cell sedan should come to the Golden State this fall. New hydrogen stations are opening soon in California to provide the fuel for these new cars.
With the introduction of fuel cell cars come questions about their emissions and the sources of hydrogen gas for refueling these vehicles. We’ve written several fact sheets (linked below) to help understand the role of hydrogen in clean transportation.
EVs can both reduce global warming emissions and oil use, two goals we know are important to ensure a healthier and sustainable future. These goals have also been put forward by California’s leadership, with recent calls to cut global warming emissions 40% from 1990 levels and oil use in half, both by 2030.
We can get to these goals using practical solutions like switching to electric drive vehicles. That’s why the progress and accomplishments we seen so far are encouraging and it’s great to have forums like the ZEV summit to learn about actions that automakers, governments and others can take to make sure the electric vehicle market continues to grow.]]>
From the NRC report summary, with emphasis added:
“First, a PEV uses no petroleum when it runs on electricity. Furthermore, the electricity that fuels the vehicle is generated using essentially no petroleum; in 2013, less than 0.7 percent of the U.S. grid electricity was produced from petroleum. Thus, PEVs advance the long-term objective of U.S. energy independence and security. Second, on average, a PEV fueled by electricity is now responsible for less greenhouse gases (GHGs) per mile than an ICE vehicle or a hybrid electric vehicle (HEV). PEVs will make further reductions in GHG emissions as the U.S. electric grid changes to lower carbon sources for its electricity. Therefore, the committee concludes that the premise for the task—that there is an advantage to the United States if a higher fraction of miles driven here are fueled by electricity from the U.S. electric grid—is valid now and becomes even more valid each year that the United States continues to reduce the GHGs that it produces in generating electricity.“
“Recommendation: As the United States encourages the adoption of PEVs, it should continue to pursue in parallel the production of U.S. electricity from increasingly lower carbon sources.”
Note: PEV=plug-in electric vehicle, ICE= Internal Combustion Engine (conventional gasoline or diesel engine)
The report also calls out purchase incentives, like the federal tax credit, as being key to lowering barriers to electric vehicle use. I agree with this conclusion and hope that we will see the federal credit continue and transition to a point of sale credit, as proposed by the Obama administration and recommended by the NRC committee. It’s also important to see state governments expand their role, like the purchase incentives in states like California and Massachusetts and the rebate currently being considered in Oregon.
The importance of clean vehicle policies like the Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) program are also cited by the report. The authors note, “The committee emphasizes that the state ZEV requirements have been particularly effective at increasing PEV production and adoption.” This includes the work of the 8 states that have shared plans to put 3.3 million electric vehicles on the road by 2025. I also think that programs like ZEV are important and will continue to support these effective electric vehicle policies.
There are also recommendations in the report for further analysis of incentives, suggestions for how to support vehicle charging, and calls for government to help providing standardization in recharging equipment and EV-ready building codes. While there are nuances in the particular measures called for, the general themes are clear: Electric vehicles reduce both global warming emissions and oil use and are beneficial to the country. To get these benefits we need to address barriers to EV adoption through forward-looking federal, state, and local government incentives and regulations.]]>