Handbook on Energy and Climate Change
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Handbook on Energy and Climate Change

Edited by Roger Fouquet

This timely Handbook reviews many key issues in the economics of energy and climate change, raising new questions and offering solutions that might help to minimize the threat of energy-induced climate change.
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Chapter 7: Electric vehicles: will consumers purchase them?

Henry Lee and Grant Lovellette


Governments around the world are becoming aware that exclusive reliance on petroleum to power the rapidly expanding transportation sector may become very costly in terms of financial, environmental and security impacts. As per capita incomes in China, India and other emerging countries grow, so too will the worldwide demand for automobiles and the fuels that power them. In 2008, the USA had 256 million highway-registered vehicles, compared with 128 million in China and 40 million in India. Globally, there were 750 million vehicles, and this figure is predicted to increase to 1.1 billion by 2030. Is it realistic to assume that a passenger fleet of this size will be populated exclusively by gasoline-powered vehicles? Even if the answer is yes, how long will the gasoline supply be priced low enough to sustain this scenario? Countries are becoming increasingly aware of the environmental and security implications of their present transportation systems and are looking at alternatives to petroleum, including biofuels, natural gas and electricity. President Obama has called for the deployment of one million electric cars on US roads by 2015. Others advocate a goal of having 20 percent of the passenger fleet consist of electric cars by 2030 – approximately 30 million electric vehicles nationwide. European countries are looking at electric vehicles as the urban car of the future, ameliorating the problems of both conventional and unconventional air pollution.

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