Futurists often describe the near-future of clean, smog-free cities full of electric, driverless cars zipping around picking up and dropping people off. This much-discussed future will be a reality soon, but when exactly?
Most experts, including car manufacturers, believe we are at an inflection point with electric vehicles, so this future is coming sooner than we think. U.S. EV sales jumped by 37 percent in 2016. By the end of last year, there were about 30 different EV offerings, with total sales of 159,139 vehicles — more than half of which were in California
So when exactly will this inflection point come, as cars are only part of the puzzle? A few of the key players driving our EV future met recently to discuss the barriers. Mary Nichols, chair of the California Air Resources Board, said, “Automakers have done their part” and produced some attractive options. But, she acknowledged, “We have a long way to go.”
Our role is to make sure the grid is ready to support the charging infrastructure — and the grid is ready.
The solutions lie in policy, finances and infrastructure, and these issues were discussed at the Bloomberg New Energy Finance Future of Energy Summit, where experts on different pieces of the puzzle weighed in: Nichols; Joachim Kolling, head of Energy Services at BMW Group; and Edison International President and CEO Pedro Pizarro.
Pizarro discussed steps that Edison International subsidiary Southern California Edison is taking. “Our role is to make sure the grid is ready to support the charging infrastructure — and the grid is ready,” he said.
With almost 16,000 public EV chargers across the country today, much more needs to be done, and quickly, if California is to reach the 7 million EVs on its roads that SCE calls for in its Clean Power and Electrification Pathway White Paper.
SCE’s Pathway will help California achieve its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions targets. State laws call for reducing GHG emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. SCE believes the best way to get there is by electrifying the transportation sector, including fuel refining, which makes up almost 50 percent of total economy-wide GHG emissions.
“The transportation sector must be tackled to really mitigate climate change and improve air quality,” said Pizarro.
EVs make financial sense and will continue to, according to BMW’s Kolling. In addition to lower maintenance costs, the estimate is that charging your EV will cost the equivalent of about $1 per gallon, much less expensive than the current cost of more than $3 per gallon for gas. And the cost of buying EVs will continue to decline as the cost of batteries falls.
The clean city of the future is on the horizon, and electric transportation is a tremendous opportunity — from reducing GHG emissions and air pollutants to helping consumers save money on fuel. That’s why so many people are working to put all of the puzzle pieces together to accelerate the EV future.