Electric Vehicles on the Market
Innovation in electric vehicles (EVs) and EV charging, supported by a dynamic marketplace and sound public policy, has fueled record-breaking EV adoption over the past year. In 2016, U.S. sales of EVs rose by 37 percent, and that pace continued in January, which saw a 70 percent year over year increase compared to last year.
As we look to 2017, policymakers should continue to support policy solutions that encourage innovation, customer choice, and the competitive marketplace to ensure the continued expansion of EV charging across the nation.Indeed, momentum for EVs continues to grow. Last month, the 238 mile per charge Chevy Bolt was named North American Car of the Year. The demand for the Tesla Model 3 is off the charts. Dozens of new electric vehicle makes and models are on their way. Ford, for instance, has announced 13 new models that will roll out over the next five years. And other automakers have announced similar plans as well.
In the marketplace, this growth is being driven by innovation.
For starters, electric vehicles have gone from sub-compact to sleek. With more than 30 EVs and plug-in hybrids on the roads, there’s a vehicle to suit just about every lifestyle. Drivers are buying them for a range of reasons – they offer the latest in automotive technologies, save money, reduce greenhouse gases, and are incredibly convenient. Additionally, changes in battery technology that have extended the range of EVs are allowing old limitations to fade away.
Similarly, there have been major advances in EV charging over the last few months. ChargePoint recently announced new locations along major highway corridors for fast chargers; new solutions that make it easier to charge in condominiums and apartment buildings; a new “waitlist” service that allows drivers to virtually “line up” for charging; and a new charging platform in development will enable the refueling of an EV in the time it takes to order and pick up a latte at your favorite coffee bar.
On the policy front, the decisions of lawmakers and regulators are critical in determining whether innovations like these will be encouraged or inhibited in the future.
The good news is that policymakers across the country are embracing innovation. In state after state – California, Utah, Oregon, Massachusetts – the approaches that support innovation in the marketplace are winning out. This includes rebates for employers, businesses, apartments, condominiums, and others that install EV chargers, as well as “make ready” programs, in which a utility provides the underlying infrastructure to prepare a parking space for charging, while EV charging providers compete to provide charging equipment and services to customers.
In California, Gov. Jerry Brown has been a true leader in the space, setting an ambitious goal of having 1.5 million EVs on the road by 2025. And the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) just approved the third of three utility pilot programs, all of which support competition and innovation in the EV charging marketplace. The CPUC is now considering additional programs which together comprise a $1 billion investment in EV charging infrastructure.
This type of approach gives drivers the ability to choose among charging providers based on quality of services, networked capabilities, speed, and a range of other features. It also ensures that the market, rather than a single utility or other private company, is driving choice and innovation in the industry. If we lock-in today’s technologies by giving incumbents monopoly authority over this area, then we significantly limit drivers’ choices, and we could be left with legacy equipment unable to keep up with the times.
As EVs continue to go mainstream, states and cities across the nation are waking up to the urgent need to electrify their transportation systems. If we do it right — in a way that supports innovation, competition, and customer choice— we will take an enormous step toward building a world-class EV charging network in the United States.
the world's largest network of electric vehicle charging stations in the U.S., Europe, and Australia.