Analysts, policymakers, electric vehicle suppliers, charging companies and the U.S. President all agree that now is the time to accelerate electric mobility. This week Boston Consulting Group (BCG) published a report, ‘Why Electric Cars Can’t Come Fast Enough’.
ZETA Coalition also hosted a video conference, ‘Electric by 2030: The Urgency and Opportunity in Electrifying the U.S. Transportation Sector’, as part of Climate Action Week. And U.S. President, Joe Biden, virtually visited the Proterra bus factory in South Carolina.
In honour of Earth Day, Auto Futures reports on these events.
Faster, Faster, Faster EV Adoptions, Says BCG
Electric cars can’t come fast enough from a climate perspective, says BCG report author, Aakash Arora.
Arora says: “First, we need to develop programs like ‘Cash for Clunkers’ where people turn in their older vehicle for a clean vehicle or an e-bike. Then we need charging infrastructure.”
He notes that Germany is now outpacing the U.S. in the last few months, with 20% EV adoption due to Covid incentives.
“Our report only looked at new car sales. There are new challenges and opportunities for low-income people. To create programs and a clear path to the people who buy used cars,” says co-author, Nathan Niese.
“With passenger vehicles, there is a clear solution for decarbonization and that is battery-electric. We need to figure out how to increase the pace for everyone for electric vehicle adoption in the future. There is a solution. There is no reason to delay the pace because EVs need to happen,” adds Niese.
Arora concurs with Niese and adds there also needs to be there to be charging in place.
“We need the infrastructure to keep pace so that we have no negative feedback from people who are worried about the ability to charge,” says Arora.
ZETA Coalition Roots for Biden’s American Jobs Plan
The Zero-Emission Transportation Association (ZETA) Coalition offers thirty-point guidance for electric vehicle adoption. Joe Britton, Executive Director, ZETA, says: “Electrification is an opportunity for us. It is good for consumers. It is good for the public. It is good to create jobs and a catalyst for domestic manufacturing.”
“ZETA’s north star goal is for every vehicle sold in the United States to be an EV by 2030. As Earth Day approaches, it is important that we recognize the opportunity to decarbonize the transportation sector,” says Britton, “Transportation is the number one carbon-emitting sector in the United States.”
David Turk, Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of Energy, talked about the American Jobs Plan from the Biden Administration that has $174 billion to encourage electrification through incentives and charging infrastructure.
“We need to act with a sense of urgency and aggressively to accelerate electrification. The President has laid out a bold job and climate plan. The bill can effectively create jobs and make America the lead in the world space of renewable energy,” says Turk.
He reported that the DOE helped reduce the cost of electric vehicle batteries by 85%. He says EVs cost $6,000 less to maintain and save $600 in fuel a year. He is now an EV owner and finds his EV is quiet and fun to drive.
Turk also reported that it is proven that in countries where they have the biggest incentives have the highest adoption rate.
Menka Sethi, Chief Operating Officer, American Battery Technology Company, says that funds from the Department of Energy are helping the company find ways to extract the metals needed for lithium-ion batteries. They have found a way to stabilize the metals needed for batteries. The metals do not degrade over time.
“We are building a centre in Nevada for battery recycling,” says Seth. She notes that the company’s technology is green for recycling, extraction and mining.
“We can not leave anybody behind. We have to connect to all the individuals with the right amount of incentives,” says Laurie Giammona, Senior Vice President, Pacific Gas and Electric Company. She says upfront incentives are a great way to ensure all customers take advantage of electric vehicles.
“Electrification is a win-win-win because when we electrify, we support people, the planet and the prosperity of business,” says Giammona
Cathy Zoi, Chief Executive Officer, EVgo, says: “People see electrification as being a chicken and egg thing. We see the market as peanut butter and jelly. It’s already launched. We need as many vehicles on the market as possible on the road and the charging infrastructure to support them.”
Zoi says to think about what kinds of chargers to be deployed for how they are used. For example, at shopping centres where people come and go quickly, ‘you want a fast charge’. If it is a place where people are charging overnight or during the day then level two charging is efficient. She warns presently 30% do not have access to a level 2 charger.
Proterra has been helped by federal support to accelerate electric medium and large trucks and transit buses, says JoAnn Covington, Chief Legal Officer and Head of Government Relations, Proterra. Proterra employs 600 Americans. However, electric buses are only 1% of the market.
Unfortunately, Proterra is unable to source the cylindrical battery cells that they need from the U.S. There is only one maker of cylindrical battery cells in the U.S. that only sell the cells to Tesla.
President Biden Pals with Proterra
Also on 20 April, U.S. President Joe Biden was given a virtual tour of the Proterra factory in South Carolina, near Michelin and BMW factories. Biden welcomed and praised the workers and asked questions about the process of making buses. He also promoted the American Jobs Plan.
“We have got a lot of catching up to do. We are going to be in a position where we have got to own the future here. We ought to be the single most significant suppliers of electric buses and vehicles in the world before it’s over. Right now, we are running way behind China. You guys are getting us in the game. It is going to make a lot of difference,” Biden told Proterra workers.
He liked that Proterra is working with Thomas Built Buses to produce electric school buses. Biden said: “Those kids in school buses – there’s a lot of evidence that breathing diesel fuel causes asthma. It is not only making it more convenient to ride and making it more smooth – it is going to physically change the health of our kids in those yellow school buses getting back and forth to school. You should be proud of what you are doing. I’m sure you are.”
Biden also touted the American Jobs Plan: “We’re extremely excited about the American Jobs Plan. We want that development done here. We want those jobs here. We want to grow this business to five times what it is today.”
“I used to have a friend who used to say. ‘It’s always great to do well and to do good’,” said Biden to a Proterra team member, “You are doing both, pal. We are going to change the air that people breathe.”