Earlier this month while in North Carolina, President Obama kicked off “EV-EVerywhere”, the second step in the Energy Department’s “Clean Energy Grand Challenges.” According to the press release, the grand challenges are “aimed at addressing the most pressing energy challenges of our time.” The goal of this particular challenge is to create electric vehicles that can compete with internal combustion models when it comes to sticker price.
The timetable for producing cheap electric vehicles is relatively short. By 2022, the initiative aims to “enable companies in the United States to be the first in the world to produce a 5-passenger affordable American electric vehicle with a payback time of less than 5 years and sufficient range and fast-charging ability to enable average Americans everywhere to meet their daily transportation needs more conveniently and at lower cost.”
Many of the benefits of EVs include zero tail pipe emissions, higher equivalent gas mileage, cheaper fuel costs, and lower maintenance demands. Whether EVs can penetrate the market will depend on the success of this program, along with steady electricity prices, increased range for batteries, and a greater network of charging stations, among other issues. Monday’s article about the installation of 200 charging stations in California is a start. However, the specter of competition from natural gas vehicles, which have their own infrastructure needs, could also derail electric vehicle adoption due to currently low prices of domestically produced natural gas.
The Department of Energy’s first “Clean Energy Grand Challenge,” the SunShot Initiative, was profiled last month. More grand challenges are coming, so check back.