by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Consumers have been slow to buy electric cars, despite there being many more electrified options. The Sustainable Energy Factbook notes there are 44 pure battery-electric models and 35 plug-in hybrid models for sale in North America, compared with “virtually zero” choices at the beginning of the decade.
Businesses, though, are watching to see how specific policy debates play out this year, including whether Congress extends tax credits for electric vehicles, said Lisa Jacobson, president of the Business Council for Sustainable Energy. The council includes a number of utilities such as Pacific Gas and Electric and National Grid, manufacturers such as Ingersoll Rand and Johnson Controls, and various trade associations that represent the wind, solar, natural gas, and other industry sectors.
Congress last year failed to reach an agreement to extend the electric vehicle incentives, amid strong opposition from oil-state senators. President Trump has also rejected the tax credits.
“We’re hopeful that progress will be made in terms of creating incentives for consumers to more affordably purchase electric and other alternative fuel vehicles,” Jacobson said.
Another important consideration, Zindler said, is the response from automakers to the Trump administration’s proposed weakening of fuel economy limits. The White House is expected to finalize soon regulations requiring only a modest year-over-year improvement in fuel efficiency and reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from passenger cars.
A big determining factor for the trajectory of transportation emissions will be whether automakers still seek to comply with the more stringent Obama-era levels or assume the Trump administration’s rollback will be upheld in court, Zindler said.