Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) have published two new policy briefs, along with accompanying videos, about the benefits of electrified vehicles and the potential for their adoption in the US. The briefs condense the findings of a number of recent papers coming out of the CMU group led by Professor Jeremy Michalek.
The first—“Electric Vehicle Benefits and Costs in the United States”—shows that the benefits of vehicle electrification vary based on vehicle type; driving style; climate; how supplying electricity is generated; and time of charge. To achieve the best outcomes, the brief suggests, plug-in vehicle adoption should typically be focused on HEVs and PHEVs by city drivers in mild-climate regions with a clean electricity grid, such as San Francisco or Los Angeles. Further, drivers should not be encouraged to charge at night in coal-heavy regions.
As the electric power grid becomes cleaner, as electric vehicles become cheaper and faster to recharge with longer range, and as policies adjust, electrification may offer benefits across the board, the brief notes.
To achieve energy security, air quality, climate change and economic goals, policies that target these goals directly, rather favoring specific technologies, have the potential to be more efficient in managing the types of variations described here, while avoiding unintended consequences.—“Electric Vehicle Benefits and Costs in the United States”
The second brief—“Electric Vehicle Adoption Potential in the United States”—begins by noting that electric vehicles can only make impact to the extent that consumers adopt them.
That adoption, however, is affected by a variety of factors including cost, consumer preferences and policy.
So, a variety of factors will affect adoption patterns for electrified vehicles: Mainstream U.S. consumers will need costs to come way down, and high volume production alone isn’t likely to get us there. Limited residential parking suitable for electric vehicle charging may pose a long term limit to mainstream adoption, and public charger investment is an expensive way to save gasoline. Loss of vehicle range in extreme weather regions may also affect regional adoption, and adoption in some regions can lead to higher-polluting fleets in other regions.—“Electric Vehicle Adoption Potential in the United States”