May 7, 2019 - Energy & Environment

The inherent brakes on electric vehicle growth

Cars in a traffic jam.

Photo: David Young/picture alliance via Getty Images

A new piece in The Conversation puts some eye-opening numbers behind why it will take so long to wring carbon emissions out of the country's car and truck fleet even though EVs are growing fast.

Why it matters: Transportation has surpassed electricity as the largest source of U.S. carbon emissions. A number of cities and states are promoting policies to boost adoption of zero-emissions vehicles, which are now a tiny fraction of new car sales.

By the numbers: Here's part of the piece by MIT profs David Keith and Christopher Knittel...

  • "We’ve determined that the average American car, truck and SUV remains in use for 16.6 years with many logging 200,000 miles or more."
  • "When we researched how fast the nation’s entire fleet turns over, we found that even if every U.S. vehicle sold were electric starting today, it would take until 2040 for 90% of vehicles in use to be electric."

What's next: The authors offer several policy ideas — around infrastructure and more — that would go further than current EV purchase tax credits (which are currently capped at 200,000 vehicles per manufacturer).

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