Saturday, June 30, 2018

Electric Vehicles Are Gaining Momentum, Despite Trump - By David Roberts

Jaguar Land Rover’s new I-PACE. (Credit: Jaguar) Click to Enlarge.
The transportation sector today emits more carbon than any other sector of the US economy.  And it is shaping up to be the next big battle in the long fight to decarbonize.

On one side of that battle:  the Trump administration, a few US automakers, and Koch Industries, who would like to stymie or at least delay the electrification of vehicles and continue the use of fossil fuels.

On the other side:  California, a coalition of like-minded states, most automakers, a growing roster of utilities, and climate hawks.  All of them are eager to accelerate the shift to electric vehicles (EVs), so that the sector can be run on increasingly clean grid power.

Lately, the Trumpian side has had the upper hand.  EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has signaled that he wants to freeze fuel-economy standards at 2020 levels, while Koch-funded groups are fighting EV incentives and blocking public-transit projects around the country.  And low oil prices have kept gas prices down, which means American consumers are once again opting for SUVs and trucks.  Cars are practically disappearing from the market; Ford plans to stop selling almost all its cars by 2020.

But underneath the surface, there is a frenzy of activity on the other side.  It’s not just that states are pushing back and beginning to set their own stringent goals (like California’s, to put 5 million EVs on the street by 2030).  It’s also that a broader coalition is taking on the real nuts and bolts of electrifying the US fleet, working out the details and best practices that will be necessary to put ambitious plans into motion.

Though only about 1 percent of US vehicles are electric today, and many consumers have not researched or even heard of EVs, some forecasts have them as high as 65 percent of new US vehicle sales in 2050.  We are on the front end of a steeply rising S-curve, a rate of change not seen in the US transportation sector for decades.  The temporary triumphs of the luddites in power should not obscure the fact that the work of making those forecasts real is beginning in earnest.

Read much more at Electric Vehicles Are Gaining Momentum, Despite Trump

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