RFF on the Issues

RFF on the Issues: Improving Electric Vehicles

Feb 26, 2016 | Shannon Wulf Tregar

Is it possible to create a new transportation system where electric vehicles are the norm? Lawrence Burns, former vice president of research & development and planning at General Motors, says yes. In a speech at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, he predicted that to meet the 2025 fuel economy standard, automakers will find it cheaper and easier to embrace electric vehicle designs than to reengineer traditional vehicles: “Beyond 2025, battery and fuel-cell vehicles could simply become the best way to design and engineer a light-duty vehicle. Set aside all the motivations with climate change, oil dependence—it’s just a better way to do a car. It’s simple.”

However, RFF’s Josh Linn and Virginia McConnell examined the issue from the consumer side, noting that while producers work to improve electric vehicles’ performance and reliability, and subsidies can reduce the price differential between electric vehicles and traditional vehicles, “greater cost reductions will be needed for EVs to dominate the vehicle market.”

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