UCLA/UC Berkeley law schools release policy paper on actions required to stimulate long-term, mass-adoption of electric vehicles; leveraging California
10 September 2012
The environmental law centers at UCLA and UC Berkeley Schools of Law today released a new policy paper on industry actions and federal, state, and local policies needed to ensure that California catalyzes mass adoption of electric vehicles by 2025, with the goal of building a long-term market in the US.
At stake, the paper argues, is the future of the electric vehicle market. California accounts for 11% of the national market of annual new car sales, and well as more than 20% of conventional hybrid vehicle (i.e., non-plug-in) in the US. “With such a significant market share and volume of cars, California can help launch a sustainable and more robust electric vehicle market, with the country and world benefitting as a result” the paper—“Electric Drive by ’25: How California Can Catalyze Mass Adoption of Electric Vehicles by 2025”—suggests.
Despite promising early results from the introduction of electric vehicles in the US market, major challenges remain to achieving mass adoption, the paper notes. At a workshop at the UCLA School of Law in May 2012, key stakeholders, including auto manufacturers, charging company representatives, electric vehicle advocates, electric utilities, and public agency leaders gathered to discuss these challenges, and identified the following three obstacles as among the most significant:
Lack of consumer awareness and information. Many consumers are unfamiliar with electric vehicles and their performance, while at the same time they may harbor common misperceptions about vehicle types, safety, range, impact on their electricity bills, and other facets of electric vehicle ownership.
Lack of appeal to a broader market. The higher initial costs and limited battery range of some electric vehicles may make them less attractive to a broader market segment beyond early adopters.
Lack of access to charging infrastructure outside of the home. Potential electric vehicle customers may be deterred by a non-home charging infrastructure that seems inadequate, difficult to navigate, and unpredictable in its pricing.
The paper outlines three high-level solutions, based on the workshop discussion, to the challenges of electric vehicle market development:
Educate consumer, the media and elected officials through a simple an effective outreach campaign about the benefits of electric vehicles.
Reduce fees, taxes and upfront costs for electric vehicle owners and invest in battery research. Among the suggestions here are the extension of the California AB 118 EV rebate program beyond 2015; creating federal and state tax incentives and lower fees and insurance payments for EV owners; distributing revenues from the sale of low carbon fuel standard credits to EV owners to provide them a revenue stream; develop battery financing programs; strengthen funding for EV battery R&D; develop alternatives to the gas tax to fund infrastructure; clarify the technical and cost requirements for vehicle to grid services; encourage the purchase of used EV batteries for grid operations.
Plan for and facilitate deployment of a well-planned and easy-to-use charging infrastructure network.
California has a strong interest in promoting the adoption of electric vehicles, based on the benefits to the economy, environment, and quality of life. With electric vehicle sales likely to increase in the long term given projected improvements to battery life and likely cost reductions, the state should begin planning now to address the challenges associated with large-scale adoption of the vehicle technologies. Heightened public awareness, easy access to financing, reduced barriers to purchase, and a well-planned and maintained charging infrastructure will help the state become a leader in electric vehicle deployment by 2025. The state and local momentum to facilitate consumer adoption of electric vehicles will ultimately help California contribute to the global changes now underway in how consumers power their vehicles.—“Electric Drive by ’25”
The paper, “Electric Drive by ’25: How California Can Catalyze Mass Adoption of Electric Vehicles by 2025 is the tenth in a series of reports on how climate change will create opportunities for specific sectors of the business community and how policy-makers can facilitate those opportunities. The contributing workshops and resulting policy papers are sponsored by Bank of America and produced by a partnership of the UCLA School of Law’s Environmental Law Center & Emmett Center on Climate Change and the Environment and UC Berkeley School of Law’s Center for Law, Energy & the Environment.
The author of this policy paper is Ethan N. Elkind, Bank of America Climate Policy Associate for UCLA School of Law’s Environmental Law Center & Emmett Center on Climate Change and the Environment and UC Berkeley School of Law’s Center for Law, Energy & the Environment (CLEE). Additional contributions to the report were made by Sean Hecht and Cara Horowitz of the UCLA School of Law and Steven Weissman of the UC Berkeley School of Law.
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