To plug-in or not isn't even the question today, maybe not even tomorrow
Is a big push towards electrification the key to global warming, energy independence and a healthy US economy? Are electric vehicles more austere than gasoline vehicles?
While electrification offers some long term potential, in the short term, electrification might be a distraction. Regardless, electrification is not the end goal. Instead, an entirely new model of transportation is the critical part of the solution according to a new autoPOLIS report.
According to autoPolis “the current enthusiasm for EVs is a poor choice of time and circumstance,” largely due to the great difficulties of storing large quantities of electricity. Additionally, coal use and the inevitable need for greater electricity taxes also open unanticipated environmental and cost doors suggests autoPOLIS.
Even in the mid term, electrification only offers real help if car consumers are willing to entirely rethink the role of the automobile. Instead of buying the most car for “universal” needs, car buyers will have to accept “specialization of vehicles by role” – whether electric or gasoline powered.
Essentially, the solution to the world's environmental and energy problems is achieving an entirely new specialized model of transportation that cohesively intersects public, private and shared transportation. As a result, instead of a big push towards electric cars over the next decade, the focus should be on smaller, slower vehicles coupled with a new policy of “modest restrictions” on driving. This begins the process of “specialization” while promoting public transportation. Over time – the next 10 to 20 years – greater vehicle specialization coupled with new transportation packages and networks help further define and refine this new transportation model. At this stage, electric vehicles could play an important role.
However, long term – the next 20+ years – even greater mobility habits need to be developed that enable the “decoupling of mobility from GDP growth”. Inevitably, the US economy, for instance, needs to be much less dependent upon the US auto industry.
Will the US lead the way?
Probably not and autoPOLIS seems to believe China might be the driver of such new mobility solutions, which is particularly interesting since “there will very likely be a new set of leaders, different from the vehicle manufacturers of today.” Somewhat sadly, China is trying to develop and grow new business models, while the US is trying to maintain old ones.