“If we want to work towards a cleaner society, it’s most effective if we switch to potentially clean cars directly.”
Based on a detailed simulation, a PhD thesis (full text here) that will be defended this Friday (7th of March 2014) gives policy makers three pieces of sound advice. I translate it to the impact on electric cars and charging infrastructure.
Follow up R&D and purchasing incentives for EV’s with investments in EV charging infrastructure
R&D is great and convincing people to buy a clean vehicle (like an electric car) is even better, but you have to follow up by investing in new infrastructure (like public charge points). Otherwise your initial investments is much less effective. The simulation “proves” what our gut also tells us: in order to escape the lock-in from the internal combustion engine and its established infrastructure you not only have to give the vehicle but also the new infrastructure a “leg up”.
Use “stepping stones” like PHEV’s to break the lock-in of gasoline cars
The PhD thesis emphasizes that policy makers should not pick winners. But on the other hand, the funding should be adequate to create a competing infrastructure or you might as wel not bother. This might be a problem for e.g. hydrogen where the infrastructure might be too costly to be realized in time. It is good news for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV’s). Their use of the existing (fossil fuel) infrastructure creates the stepping stone for the introduction of fully electric vehicles in his simulation model.
“Dare to dream” by promoting radical options like EVs
Policy makers should give more incentives to radical technologies that have a larger potential in the long run. He gives practical examples: too much focus on a CO2 tax hurts less mature technologies like electric cars. Extra incentives for technologies with more potential in the long run (like electric cars) lead to a much higher positive impact per euro.
In the words of our newly minted PhD Alexander van der Vooren: “If we want to work towards a cleaner society, it’s most effective if we switch to potentially clean cars directly.”