Will Current Electric Vehicle Policy Lead to Cost-Effective Electrification of Passenger Car Transport?

  • Marcello Contestabile
  • Mohammed Alajaji
Part of the Green Energy and Technology book series (GREEN)


Encouraged by the falling cost of batteries, electric vehicle (EV) policy today focuses on accelerating electrification of passenger cars, paying comparatively little attention to the cost of the particular type of EVs and charging infrastructure deployed. This chapter first discusses the strong influence that EV policy design has on the development of particular EV types. It then illustrates recent research conducted by the authors, showing that EV policy with a strong bias towards long-range battery electric vehicles (BEVs) risks leading to higher overall costs in the medium term. The costs could possibly exceed the ability of governments to sustain the necessary incentives and of automotive original equipment manufacturers to internally subsidise EVs until battery cost drops sufficiently. While the research does not fully explore the latter issue and its potential to stall the EV transition, it does show that the incremental cost of different EV and infrastructure mixes over the whole passenger car fleet can differ quite substantially and that promoting a balanced mix of BEVs and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) may set the electrification of passenger cars on a lower-risk, lower-cost path. Examining EV policy in the UK and in California, we find that it is generally not incompatible with achieving balanced mixes of BEVs and PHEVs; however, it could be better designed if it paid more attention to cost and technology development risk.


Electric vehicle policy California United Kingdom Case study PHEV BEV 


  1. 1.
    International Energy Agency (IEA), in World Energy Outlook (2015)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    U.S. Energy Information Adminstration (EIA), International Energy Outlook (2014)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    IEA, Energy and Climate Change: World Energy Outlook Special Report (2015)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    S.K. Ribeiro et al., Chapter 9: Energy End-Use: Transport, in Global Energy Assessment—Toward a Sustainable Future. 2012: Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK and New York, USA and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Laxenburg, AustriaGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    IPCC, Climate Change 2014: Synthesis Report. Contribution of Working Groups I, II and III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Core Writing Team, R.K. Pachauri and L.A. Meyer (Eds.)]. 2014, IPCC, Geneva, SwitzerlandGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    OECD, in The Cost of Air Pollution: Health Impacts of Road Transport. (OECD Publishing, 2014)Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    N. Lutsey, in Transition to a Global Zero-Emission Vehicle Fleet: A Collaborative Agenda for Governments. 2015, The International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT). 1225 I Street NW Suite 900, Washington DC 20005Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    European Union, Directive 2014/94/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 October 2014 on the Deployment of Alternative Fuels Infrastructure (2014)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    IEA, Global EV, in Outlook—Understanding the Electric Vehicle Landscape to 2020. 2013, International Energy Agency, Electric Vehicles Initiative and Clean Energy Ministerial Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    NRC, in Overcoming Barriers to Deployment of Plug-In Electric Vehicles. 2015, committee on overcoming barriers to electric-vehicle deployment, board on energy and environmental systems, division on engineering and physical sciences and transportation research board. National Research Council of the National Academies (The National Academies Press, 500 Fifth Street, Washington D.C)Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    IEA, Global EV, in Outlook 2015. Electric Vehicles Initiative and Clean Energy Ministerial Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Element Energy, Ecolane, and University of Aberdeen, Pathways to High Penetration of Electric Vehicles. Final Report for the Committee on Climate Change. (Element Energy Ltd. 20 Station Road, Cambridge CB1 2JD, 2013)Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    J. Struben, J.D. Sterman, Environ. Plann. B-Plann. Des. 35, 1070 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    M. Contestabile, M. Alajaji, B. Almubarak, Energy Policy 110, 20 (2017)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    IEA, Global EV, in Outlook 2016. Beyond One Million Electric Cars. International Energy Agency, Electric Vehicles Initiative and Clean Energy Ministerial Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    P. Mock, Z. Yang, Driving Electrification—A Global Comparison of Fiscal Incentive Policy for Electric Vehicles. 2014, The International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT). 1225 I Street NW Suite 900, Washington DC 20005Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Brook Lyndhurst, Uptake of ultra low emission vehicles in the UK—a rapid evidence assessment for the department for transport (Office for Low Emission Vehicles, 2015)Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    W. Sierzchula et al., Energy Policy 68, 183 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    B. Nykvist, M. Nilsson, Nature. Clim. Change 5, 329 (2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    M. Åhman, L.J. Nilsson, Util. Policy 16, 80 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    M. Dijk, M. Yarime, Technol. Forecast. Soc. Change 77, 1371 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    F.W. Geels, J. Transp. Geogr. 24, 471 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    A. Chase, P. Wells, G. Alberts, Investing in the Low Carbon Journey: Lessons from the First Decade of UK Policy on the Road to 2050. Prepared for the LowCVP by E4tech with Cardiff Business School. 2014Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    OLEV, Plug-in Car and Van grants eligibility. 28 March 2016; Available from:
  25. 25.
    Element Energy, Transport Energy Infrastructure Roadmap to 2050. Electricity Roadmap [2015, Element Energy Report for the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership]Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    DfT, Road Investment Strategy: for the 2015/16–2019/20 Road Period, Department for Transport, Editor, 2015Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    R. Hutchins, et al., Assessing the role of the plug-in car grant and plugged-in places scheme in electric vehicle take-up. 2013: transport research laboratory (TRL). Report for the Department for Transport (DfT), Social Research and Evaluation DivisionGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    California, Governor’s Office, Executive Order B-30-15. 2015Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    California, Governor’s Office, Executive Order B-16-2012. 2012Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    California, Governor’s Office, 2013 ZEV Action Plan. A Roadmap Toward 1.5 Million Zero-Emission Vehicles on California Roadways by 2025, G.s.I.W.G.o.Z.-e.V.G.E.G.B.J.F. 2013, Editor. 2013Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    California, Governor’s Office, 2015 ZEV Action Plan. An Updated Roadmap Toward 1.5 Million Zero-Emission Vehicles on California Roadways by 2025, G.s.I.W.G.o.Z.-E.V.G.E.G.B.J.A. 2015, Editor. 2015Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    California Auto Outlook, Comprehensive Information on the California Vehicle Market, vol 12, No. 1, Released Feb 2016, Covering Fourth Quarter 2015. 2016, California New Car Dealers AssociationGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    AFDC (Alternative Fuel Data Center), Electric Vehicle Charging Station Locations. 2016 [cited 2016, May 11]; Available from:
  34. 34.
    NREL, California Statewide Plug-in Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Assessment—Final Project Report. 2014, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, 15013 Denver West Parkway, Golden, CO 80401: Prepared for California Energy CommissionGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    California Secretary of State, Zero-Emission Vehicle Standards for 2018 and Subsequent Model Year Passenger Cars, Light-Duty Trucks, and Medium-Duty Vehicles, in California Code of Regulations Section 1962:2, ed. by California Air Resources Board (2013)Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    California Secretary of State, Zero-Emission Vehicle Standards for 2009 through 2017 Model Year Passenger Cars, Light-Duty Trucks, and Medium Duty Vehicles, in California Code of Regulations Section 1962:1, ed. by California Air Resource Board (2013)Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Center for Sustainable Energy, California Plug-in Electric Vehicle Driver Survey Results—May 2013. Clean Vehicle Rebate Project, California Center for Sustainable Energy, 9325 Sky Park Court, Suite 100, San Diego, CA 92123Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    SMMT, Motor Industry Facts 2013. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, 71 Great Peter Street, London SW1P 2BN UKGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    G.J. Offer et al., Techno-economic and behavioural analysis of battery electric, hydrogen fuel cell and hybrid vehicles in a future sustainable road transport system in the UK. Energy Policy 39, 1939 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    DfT, National Travel Survey, 2002–2006 [computer file]. 2nd Edition., Department for Transport Editor. 2008, Data Archive [distributor], Aug 2008. SN: 5340: Colchester, Essex: UKGoogle Scholar
  41. 41. 2016; Available from:
  42. 42.
    U.S. News Best Cars. (no date); Available from:
  43. 43. 2016 [Aug 2016]; Available from:
  44. 44.
    DoT, National Household Travel Survey 2009, F. H. A. U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of Highway Policy Information, Editor. 2009Google Scholar
  45. 45.
    Lotus Engineering Inc., An Assessment of Mass Reduction Opportunities for a 2017–2020 Model Year Vehicle Program. 2010, Submitted to: The International Council on Clean TransportationGoogle Scholar
  46. 46.
    A. Brooker, J. Ward, L. Wang, Lightweighting Impacts on Fuel Economy, Cost, and Component Losses, in SAE 2013 World Congress & Exhibiton. 2013Google Scholar
  47. 47.
    S. Pagerit, P. Sharer, A. Rousseau, Fuel Economy Sensitivity to Vehicle Mass for Advanced Vehicle Powertrains, in SAE Paper 2006-01-0665, SAE World Congress. 2006: Detroit, April 2006Google Scholar
  48. 48.
    Element Energy, Cost and Performance of EV batteries—Final Report for the Committee on Climate Change. 2012, Element Energy Limited: 20 Station Road, Cambridge CB1 2JDGoogle Scholar
  49. 49.
    A. Moawad et al., Assessment of Vehicle Sizing, Energy Consumption, and Cost Through Large-Scale Simulation of Advanced Vehicle Technologies (Argonne National Laboratory, Energy Systems Division, 2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center (KAPSARC)RiyadhSaudi Arabia
  2. 2.Centre for Environmental PolicyImperial College LondonLondonUK

Personalised recommendations