How electric cars and pay-as-you-go are connected

Shifting to electric vehicles interests me for two issues: How do we encourage people to switch and how will they pay for road use after they switch?

In the past, I have discussed a new market ecosystem for power, e-cars and road-pricing. As well, I noted the manner in which the Danes elected to encourage the uptake of electric cars (excessive, perhaps, but right-minded).

Recently, Streetsblog, described a new report (Exploring Electric Vehicle Adoption in New York City) from the Mayor’s Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability. (more)

To summarize the summary for the twitter attention span:
  1. Electric vehicles could help achieve New York City’s sustainability goals.
  2. The Federal Government is aggressively supporting EV development.
  3. There is a potentially large group of early adopters willing to change behavior to accommodate electric vehicles.
  4. These early adopters will likely outstrip the available supply of EVs to the New York market for at least the next five years.
  5. The study suggests targeting early policy actions to those issues that early adopters find most important. Efforts focused on other consumer segments should wait for several years.
  6. Early adopters do not appear to need a high-density public charging network or local tax incentives.
  7. The projected level of adoption of EVs should not threaten the stability of the electric grid as long as most chargers are “smart”, allowing charging to take place during off-peak hours.
  8. An opportunity exists for industry stakeholders to partner to prepare for, and encourage, EV early adoption.
The study also suggests targeting early policy actions to the issues that early adopters find most important. Efforts focused on other consumer segments should wait for several years. I would suggest, instead, focusing on ways to expand the pool of early adopters. The very early adopters hardly need incentives.

So what about pay-as-you-go?
The Mayor's report (above) lists a number of early incentives on page 19. Some of these can be delivered and the list can be extended with on-board devices that manage parking (for payment automation, parking finders, loyalty programs and green-rewards), and pay-as-you-drive insurance. So on the uptake side, technology can deliver value to encourage EV purchase, but once penetration starts, how are these vehicles to pay for road use? You can forget taxing electricity at the rates required for road user fees. The answer is some form of road-use charging, and TDP is the best. So if NYC said, "here are a handful of financial incentives, and the easy way to get them is with a road-use meter," NYC would have those early adopters establish the installed base of road-use meters for road use charging by 2015-2020, as will be needed anyway.


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