Electric vehicles have been in existence since the creation of the automobile in the 1800s, but fossil fuel powered vehicles have always been the dominant powertrain technology for mass-produced automobiles. Pollution, climate change, resource availability, and geopolitical concerns have led to a renewed interest in alternative engine technologies and electric vehicles are at the forefront of this debate because there are no direct emissions from the vehicle during its operation. However, an electric vehicle does not operate in a vacuum. Rather, it is part of a complex system that includes the production of the vehicles and the generation of power to charge the batteries in the vehicle. The proposed project is an economic and environmental sustainability assessment of electric vehicle systems. There are three main questions:
These questions will be explored using a research plan that is organized into the three elements:
The research team will define scenarios to analyze based on vehicle characteristics (vehicle type, powertrain), contextual characteristics (usage profiles, utility grid mix), and technology transition characteristics (technology learning rates, fleet implementation rates).
The primary outcome from this work will be strategies for developing economically and environmentally sustainable electric vehicle systems. The audience for these strategies will include all stakeholders within the system: automotive manufacturers and suppliers, infrastructure developers, power generators, and policymakers. The strategies will include recommendations on vehicle technology and manufacturing as a function of context. Furthermore, there will be methodological contributions in the diverse areas of life cycle assessment, economic technological forecasting, and decision analysis, and in mechanisms for integrating these topics.