July 8, 2017
When Will Electric Cars Go Mainstream? It May Be Sooner Than You Think
EPIC Executive Director Sam Ori gives his take on whether electric cars can become widespread.
By Brad Plumervia The New York Times
As the world’s automakers place larger bets on electric vehicle technology, many industry analysts are debating a key question: How quickly can plug-in cars become mainstream?
The conventional view holds that electric cars will remain a niche product for many years, plagued by high sticker prices and heavily dependent on government subsidies.
But a growing number of analysts now argue that this pessimism is becoming outdated. A new report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance, a research group, suggests that the price of plug-in cars is falling much faster than expected, spurred by cheaper batteries and aggressive policies promoting zero-emission vehicles in China and Europe.
Between 2025 and 2030, the group predicts, plug-in vehicles will become cost competitive with traditional petroleum-powered cars, even without subsidies and even before taking fuel savings into account. Once that happens, mass adoption should quickly follow...
...Other experts caution that falling battery costs are not the only factor in determining whether electric cars become widespread. Sam Ori, the executive director of the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago, noted, “People don’t buy cars based solely on the price tag.”
Consumers may remain wary of vehicles with limited range that can take hours to charge. Even though researchers have shown that battery-electric vehicles have sufficient range for many people’s daily commuting habits, consumer psychology is still difficult to predict. The report does not, for instance, expect electric vehicles to catch on widely in the pickup-truck market...