Tax incentives and other measures have been proven effective in providing the additional boost needed for mainstream consumers to choose EVs. The Recovery Act established tax credits for purchasing electric vehicles ($2,500 – $7,500 per vehicle, depending on the battery capacity) and conversion kits to retrofit conventionally powered vehicles with electric vehicle capability ($4,000 per vehicle, maximum). The President has also proposed transforming the existing $7,500 EV tax credit into a more accessible and even more attractive rebate at the dealership. In addition, nearly 40 U.S. states and the District of Columbia have adopted other measures promoting electric-drive vehicle usage, including high occupancy vehicle (HOV) privileges and waived emissions inspections, as well as tax credits/rebates and preferred purchase programs.
The President has announced that the FY 2012 Budget will include enhanced R&D
investments in battery and other electric drive technologies. DOE and U.S. industry have invested over $3 billion in battery manufacturing facilities using Recovery Act and matching funds. Increasing the production output of a battery plant from 10,000 units/year to 100,000 units/year can directly reduce battery costs by 30-40 percent. DOE’s established cost target of $300/kWh by 2015 is an aggressive but achievable goal for lithium-ion batteries.
Through the Recovery Act, the United States made an unprecedented investment to build our domestic manufacturing capacity and secure our position as a global leader in advanced lithium-ion battery technology. This investment includes:
• $2.4 billion in loans to three of the world’s first electric vehicle factories in Tennessee, Delaware, and California.
• $2 billion in grants to support 30 factories that produce batteries, motors, and other EV components. Companies are matching the funding dollar for dollar, doubling the impact of taxpayer investments. These grants are enabling companies to build the
capacity to produce 50,000 EV batteries annually by the end of 2011 and 500,000 EV
batteries annually by December 2014.
Alternative plan for a cheaper rollout and 100 times faster
I have proposed for lightweight (electric bikes and trike pod cars). It will be a cheaper and faster rollout. Cheaper since there would be less subsidy per vehicle. Also, besides subsidy carrots there would be some road toll (sticks) that would provide revenue to local or federal governments.
My proposed scheme can be introduced city by city and does not require a national program.
The plan would be to give away or heavily subsidize folding electric bikes, scooters, and lightweight pod cars that ideally cost less than $1000. This will be more affordable than $6000 subsidies for part of a hybrid. Lightweight (less than 150 pound) electric vehicles will use 20 to one hundred times less metal and batteries than an electric car. Mass deployment would not need to wait for new batteries to be developed and scaled up to supply tens of millions of cars.
China has about 150 million electric bikes and is producing about 30 million electric bikes each year. China is capable of producing 50 million small motors and other components for those electric bikes. One hundred million light weight electric vehicles could be deployed by 2015 as an extra vehicle so that the number of miles driven with current cars and trucks would be reduced.
The giveaway electric bikes and scooters strategy would be the easiest and fastest path to electrifying transportation. However, it is not realistic to take away existing cars and trucks. This plan allows people to keep their old car and truck and use it for recreation and other purposes. However we apply electronic tolls when they use the old vehicle after we have given them a clean alternative “getting
around” vehicle(s). We already have toll roads and electronic devices for paying tolls.
– Ensure everyone has an electronic toll paying device
– city by city pass new tolls for using cars and trucks
– give away electric bikes and scooters or pod cars for everyone
– ideally take one lane of road and use it for two way electric vehicle movement. Electric vehicles that are less than half as wide as regular cars would fit.
– road tolls at a local level are easier to pass than federal transportation bills
– the San Francisco bay area has increased bridge tolls by 5 times with no effective opposition
– the Boston area has tolls every couple of miles.
– smart electronic tolling allows for variable tolling. Tolls can be set only during commuting hours. People could still freely use their car and truck for recreation
We can also supplement this system with larger Zip car systems, where a fleet of efficient cars and trucks are available for rental when large items needs to be moved or other uses are needed that do not fit the mode of the small ultralight electric vehicle. This can be achieved with support conversion of rental car company fleets, taxis and moving vans.
In the comments someone mentioned how you cannot use electric bikes in cold weather, here is a video of someone using an electric bike in Quebec in the winter.
Velomobile fully enclosed Cab-Bike
There is one tested and proven velomobile that truly captures the spirt of replacing your car with electically assisted human power. The Cab-Bike is a recumbent trike with a fully enclosed aerodynamic shell for comfortable riding in all weather conditions.
Again a video of the Cab-bike in winter in Quebec.
The Enclosable Pedelec Sinclair for about $846
So enclosed electric scooters are possible and can be affordable in the one thousand to two thousand dollar range.
The wheels can be upgraded.
The Edison2 won the 100 mpg xprize with a vehicle that can fit four people and weighs about 700 lbs and can go at faster than highway speed.
SPEED DRAG POWER ENERGY RANGE mph lb hp KW KWhr/100 Miles Miles 0 1.4 0.0 0.00 10 8.6 0.2 0.17 2.04 785 20 11.8 0.6 0.47 2.79 574 30 15.8 1.3 0.94 3.74 428 40 20.7 2.2 1.65 4.90 327 50 26.4 3.5 2.63 6.26 255 60 33.1 5.3 3.95 7.83 204 70 40.6 7.6 5.65 9.61 167 80 48.9 10.4 7.78 11.58 138 90 58.1 14.0 10.41 13.77 116 100 68.2 18.2 13.57 16.16 99
The power numbers are really quite astonishing – only 3.5 hp to drive the VLC at 50 mph. The great virtue of such a low power requirement is that energy requirements are also spectacularly low. Using our platform, the range of an electric car stops being a problem.
Similarly vehicle that are as aerodynamic but half the weight or less of the Edison 2 would have even lower energy demands.
* Less engine means lower cost and do not need expensive batteries.
* lower weight means less material demands (do not need as much steel, lithium etc…)
* the closer you can get to an electric bike then the easier it is to get to electric bike volumes of 30 million per year versus an electric car where you have to spend billions to enable 1 million per year in 2015
* a modest push in performance and voltages of 72 or higher can achieve higher speeds and an aeroshell can provide more efficiency and weather protection
* I had suggested one dedicated lane so that the crash proofing would only need to be collisions with ultralights instead of with existing cars and trucks
The X-tracer is an electric bike that won the alternative class in the Xprize contest.
The e-Tracer is an electric conversion of that car. It has a full-monocoque composite chassis with retractable outriggers that keep the vehicle upright at low speeds and when parked. It seats two in-line. The Monotracer sells for about 53,000 Euros, or about $85,000 at current exchange rates. The electric version is even more expensive.
Passengers: Two in-line
Drive type: Battery electric, rear-wheel-drive
Power source: 20 kwh lithium-ion batteries, 90-kw or 130-kw electric motor
California has a roadmap to get to all electric cars by 2050
So the endpoint of all electric vehicles is the same but one way costs ten to one hundred times more and takes 20-30 years longer. This goes to the issue that some have that “but americans do not want to give up their current cars”. The plans are to make that happen, do you want to go expensive and slow or cheaper and faster ?
I am just trying to provide an electric commuter option. Also, by using city zoning ordinances, people would have options reduced and shifted. Just like some areas of cities are walking only. People are forced out of their cars.
Times Square, arguably New York City’s most congested neighborhood, created two pedestrian plazas last June. The pilot program was intended to be temporary, however, it proved so popular that the outdoor space was made permanent. No longer zooming with taxicabs and angry drivers, pedestrians have reclaimed the area. Not only did the redesign reroute traffic but it also increased local business due to the increased pedestrian travel. Car-related pedestrian accidents fell by 35 percent and motorist and passenger injuries were reduced by 63 percent.
The advantage of not rolling it out nationwide all at once is that only certain cities or parts of cities need to adopt it. Then like Amsterdam the electric vehicles can be made available for use and shared. But then it can expand and people can be given incentive to have their own vehicle.
Plus the point is that I am comparing it the cost of the DOE/Obama program to get a shift to electric cars. People don’t want electric cars yet either. There are environmental and other benefits. I am describing a faster and cheaper transition.
In my plan current cars and trucks would never be fully banned but would be specifically for enjoyment and recreation. When you are just going to and from work, does it have to be in an SUV ? If it does then pay the tolls and go ahead. There are plenty of encroachments on freedom to use vehicles now. Washington DC and other places have odd/even days for when you are allowed to drive into the city. Odd license plate or even. The current emissions from cars and trucks kill tens of thousands of people in the US and a lot more around the world. How does personal driving choice freedom match up against those deaths and increased medical and other costs ?
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
A frequent speaker at corporations, he has been a TEDx speaker, a Singularity University speaker and guest at numerous interviews for radio and podcasts. He is open to public speaking and advising engagements.