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Increasing electric vehicle policy efficiency and effectiveness by reducing mainstream market bias

Green, Erin H., Skerlos, Steven J., Winebrake, James J.
Energy Policy 2014 v.65 pp. 562-566
demographic statistics, emissions, energy, energy policy, funding, loans, niche markets, transportation, vehicles (equipment)
Plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) provide an opportunity for reducing energy use and emissions in the transportation sector. Currently, a number of federal policies are in place to incentivize deployment of PEVs to mainstream consumers with demographics and vehicle attribute preferences most common to today's new vehicle purchasers. This article argues that policies intending to give PEVs a foothold in the market should not focus on mainstream consumers and should instead focus on niche markets—specifically carsharing and postal fleets—and early adopters including green consumers. Two arguments can be made in support of eliminating the mainstream market bias of current policies toward a policy of cultivating niche markets. The first is efficiency: so far PEV policies featuring a mainstream market bias have proven to be inefficient and costly. The second is effectiveness: it is becoming increasingly evident that PEV policies would be more effective in achieving potential societal benefits if they focused on early adopters and niche markets using such approaches as strategic niche management, accessible loans and financing, and appropriately targeted incentives. PEV policies focused on early adopters and niche markets would create complementary system effects that will lead to increased PEV market penetration and realization of intended societal benefits.