Recently, I talked to Ben Leard, a fellow at Resources for the Future, about the study, “What Does an Electric Vehicle Replace?” which he recently commpleted with colleagues Shanjun Li and Jianwei Xing. Following are several excepts from our discussion, which you can listen to or download below or in ITunes.
“EVs replace relatively fuel efficient vehicles and more so sedans, smaller vehicles, which is to be expected because eclectic vehicles, at least right now, they’re all sedans, kind of smaller vehicles. We don’t really have an electric truck or an electric SUV yet. In terms of what is being substituted, it’s really these smaller vehicles that get better fuel economy and so the consequence of that is that you’re going to get fewer environmental benefits from electric vehicles being in the marketplace because they’re replacing these relatively fuel efficient vehicles. That’s the main take away from our paper.”
“What we were interested in understanding is this question of, it’s called additionality. If you have some type of subsidy, in this case we’re thinking about a tax credit or purchasing and electric vehicle, a key number that policymakers want to know is, what is your bang for your buck? How many additional electric vehicles are you selling as a result of this subsidy and also how many vehicles would have been bought anyway with the subsidy? It’s a matter of how many additional sales are you getting from having this subsidy in place and so we looked at this question and we found that actually a lot of the a lot of the electric vehicles that were purchased [in the time period we looked at], would have been bought anyway even without the subsidy. That was somewhat surprising to us.”