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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Steering the Electric Vehicle Transition to Sustainability


To achieve carbon reduction goals for 2040 and 2050, plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) policy must be worldwide and involve multi-decade policy programs. One policy is a broadening commitment to ending fossil fuels for light-duty vehicles; this will solidify the direction and accelerate investments in zero emission vehicles (ZEVs) and decapitalization of internal combustion drivetrain production so as to enable the climate driven timetable of the transition. Another proposed policy is up to two decades of financial signals to buyers and producers, sized to keep the market tilted toward PEVs while production costs decline. Additional privileges in road, parking and electricity systems are needed to attract more conservative segments of buyers and sellers. PEV manufacturers could commit to at least three generations of PEV design, and investment and product rollout into all market segments and vehicle designs. Outreach and education campaigns lasting through those three generations of potential consumers could also be implemented, including leveraging the enthusiastic desire of the first few million buyers to educate coworkers and neighbors. Inclusion of energy transitions in the education system is also necessary. The retail sector, primarily dealers included in the policy, could also have education and incentive programs. Efforts of OEMs, governments and power companies could be coordinated to meet charging needs and wants of the expanding market. This will need to include the greening of the grid and integration of PEVs in the system optimization of renewables.

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