Electric vehicles are an important technology that will be necessary for economy-wide decarbonization. Currently, passenger vehicles alone represent the greatest single share of global oil demand, at 23%. Trucks make up another 17% of global oil demand.
To study potential trends in store for passenger electric vehicles, Columbia researchers collected data from 17 forecasts produced by a variety of entities including governments, think tanks, investment banks, and oil companies. These forecasts span a very wide range of outcomes, in part because some specifically model low-carbon futures, while others model likely futures regardless of carbon intensity.
The forecasts contained a mix of optimistic and pessimistic trends. On the positive side, none of the surveys projected significant oil demand growth from passenger vehicles over the next 20-25 years. On the negative side, forecasts for the rate of decline in battery prices became slightly less aggressive relative to previous surveys, and forecasts for total EV sales have also become slightly less aggressive.
Federal has an important impact on these trends, and it will be necessary to accelerate them to avoid dangerous climate impacts. Financing has a key role to play, as do direct incentives for electric vehicle miles traveled, and regulatory mechanisms like fuel efficiency standards. Federal policy needs to become much stronger on each of these fronts.
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