Transportation accounts for nearly 15 % of the global greenhouse gas emissions. It is projected to account for nearly 21% of the global CO2 emissions by 2050. However with the global goal to limit the temperature rise to only 2°C by 2050 means nearly 75% of all vehicles sold by 2050 would have to be electrically driven (either completely EV of hybrid). In contrast to the big dream , our current EV vehicles account for less than 1% of the global vehicles sold.
Demystifying terms: PEV: Plug in Electric Vehicle, Type of hybrid vehicle which operates on both internal combustion engine and electrical motor. Example: Nissan leaf (Can we forget the ad?)
EV/BEV: Battery operated Electric Vehicle, driven completely by electrical batteries. Example: Tesla
The third age of EV
Electric Vehicles (EV) is definitely not a new breed of automobiles, they have been in vogue for over a century. As a matter of fact the current age is termed as the third age of EV. The first stage of EV was in the turn of the 20th century when there was an influx of technological showmanship in crafting new designs, but it faded away due to cheaper alternatives. Historical numbers indicate its resurgence in the period of 1980s when the declining US oil production meant an increase in fuel prices and a need for alternatives. The current age revolves around a need to act on the repercussions caused by the global warming. It is now driven by a surge in mass production of EV which is compared to the days when Ford T was produced in masses.
Global EV outlook
The cumulative global number for electric vehicles of all types on road (as on Sept. 2014) is 600,000 units which is a 25% increase compare to 400,000 units at the beginning of 2014 which in turn was double the capacity compared to Jan 2013 when the total number was just under 200,000 vehicles. The figures clearly indicate a trend, electric vehicles are gaining popularity and are on track to replace the oil driven ones.
However, an interesting fact to know is that only 8 countries account for nearly 95% of that number.
The curious case of Norway!
I first heard about the curious case of Tesla vehicles in Norway, through the podcast Freakonomics Radio. Norway, a small country of 6 million people leads the charts when it comes to percentage of electric vehicles in the mix. Nearly 7% of the vehicle sales in the period from 2013 to 2014 have been electric. With a car population of 2.5million, the number of electric vehicles around 25000 means nearly 1% of the car population is all electric. What does 1 % mean? Well, for US, the largest automobile market, to achieve that number would mean it should have an EV population of 2.5 Million, it now has nearly 200,000 only. Norway achieved this remarkable feat owing to a slew of government policies in tax subsidies, electric vehicles given priority parking, special lanes and an increasing number of choices. Notably, for a country whose economy drives on oil exports (off shore oil wells are plenty), to cut gasoline consumption by 24% in the past 5 years is a significant number. Well, if all goes well, the percentage of EV in Norway could rise to 2% as early as 2016.
The future of EV
The future of EV depends on how we turn the challenges into opportunities. There is a need to address the challenges from Policy, Technology and infrastructure fronts.
- Financial assistance in the form of subsidies for purchase of new vehicles
- Regulations in terms of fuel economy and emissions (for hybrid)
- Exemption from taxes to the end consumer
- Varying duties for different vehicles in terms of their battery capacity and their impact on CO2 reduction would help consumers choose better vehicles and manufacturers to come up with innovative design.
- Budget allocations to setup new manufacturing facilities.
- Reducing the total cost of ownership
- Reduction in battery costs
- Increasing efficiency ( distance between successive charging)
- Developing options to upgrade batteries seamlessly on old EV models
- Evolving building codes for setting up EV charging infrastructure
- Charging hubs in cities
- Dedicate lanes for EV
- Promoting workplace charging
- Creating special zones with benefits to promote EV manufacturing
Electric Vehicles are critical to climate change mitigation. Small economies in Europe have set examples by adopting innovative policies to promote electric vehicles. It will be a matter of time before the same effect is seen for countries with large population.
Source of Stats: Wikipedia and GlobalEVOutlook