An electric car charges up while its owner shops at a mall in Pennsylvania, US
An electric car charges up while its owner shops at a mall in Pennsylvania, US. Photo: Montgomery County Planning Commission / Flickr .

Within two days of Elon Musk’s unveiling of the Tesla Model 3, pre-orders for the $35,000 sedans had exceeded 275,000. Electric cars, it is clear, are finally catching on – and as battery and charging technologies keep improving, and costs drop, demand will keep rising.

Yet globally, only about 0.04% of cars on the road in 2014 were electric vehicles (here we count only battery electric vehicles, not hybrids). EV sales are roughly doubling each year, but only 3% of cars sold in 2014 were electric. If current trends continue, the International Energy Agency estimates that 7% of cars sold and 2% of cars on the road in 2030 will be EVs, barely making a dent in the auto market.

That would be a huge missed opportunity. Transport now accounts for about 14% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and it is also a major source of air pollution. Coupled with a shift to clean electricity, a large-scale deployment of EVs could be transformative. In fact, it is hard to imagine how transport could become carbon-neutral without EVs.

In a new paper in the journal Applied Energy, we show how smart policy interventions could spur an EV breakthrough, so by 2030, 70% of cars sold, and about one-third of cars on the road, are electric. The key is to learn from EV pioneers such as Norway, where in March 2015, 26% of cars sold were EVs. We also need to adopt policies at all levels of governance that tackle the key barriers to EV growth.

Source: The Huffington Post, US