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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.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Oct 15, 2020 - Economy & Business

Working from home is driving up power bills

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Residential electricity consumption rose 10% in the second quarter as the pandemic kept many people at home, new research shows.

Why it matters: The new paper from Tufts University economist Steve Cicala is another window onto how COVID-19 is shifting energy use patterns and creating financial hardship.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
46 mins ago - Technology

Facebook's scandals have been great for shareholders

Expand chart
Data: YCharts; Chart: Axios

Facebook has been embroiled in scandal for the past five years, and while the specific allegations change over time, a central theme is constant. Given the choice between commercial and moral imperatives, Facebook always seems to choose the option that is best for the share price.

Why it matters: Facebook's stock chart supports that narrative. Since the 2016 scandals alleging that the social network was infiltrated by foreign actors trying to influence the outcome of democratic elections, Facebook's revenues — and its stock — have been soaring.

Biden to tap telecom trio for NTIA, FCC posts

Jessica Rosenworcel. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

President Joe Biden on Tuesday is expected to name Alan Davidson as head of the telecom arm of the Commerce Department, Jessica Rosenworcel as chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission and Gigi Sohn as a commissioner at the FCC, according to a person familiar with the process.

Why it matters: Internet availability and affordability has been a key policy priority for the White House, but the administration lagged in tapping people for the agency posts that oversee the issues.