Falling costs for battery and fuel cell technology mean that governments can push for widespread deployment of zero-emissions vehicles without straining taxpayers, University of California, Davis researchers say.
Why it matters: Transportation overtook electricity generation a few years ago as the nation's largest source of carbon dioxide emissions.
- However, zero-emissions vehicles typically come with higher upfront costs, and widespread adoption requires new charging infrastructure.
The big picture: Analysts with the school's Institute of Transportation Studies have been modeling projected costs — and ultimately savings — from transitioning moving to zero-emissions cars, trucks and buses in California.
- Their analysis this year shows substantially lower costs and larger eventual savings than even projects made a year ago.
By the numbers: The latest analysis, based on achieving an 80% reduction in CO2 emissions from transportation by 2050, finds a total of $7 billion in "transition costs" between 2020 and 2028.
- That's substantially lower than projected costs when the conducted the same modeling in 2019.
Where it stands: The analysis comes as California officials are looking to substantially boost electric vehicle penetration, including new regulations last month on truck sales. Dan Sperling, a co-author of the UC-Davis analysis, is a member of the California Air Resources Board.
The bottom line: "After 2030, the costs of owning and operating [zero-emissions vehicles] are projected to be lower than gasoline and diesel cars and trucks. The savings, from 2030 to 2045 could reach $100 billion," they write.
- They also note that taxpayers as a whole need not bear the costs, citing policy options like fees on buyers of inefficient internal combustion vehicles combined with rebates for zero-emissions vehicle buyers.