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Here Are Five Things States Can do to Make EVs More Popular

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【Summary】Electric vehicles are more popular than ever, but Fortune believes states that do these five things will help electric cars become more popular.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    Aug 06, 2018 9:30 AM PT
Here Are Five Things States Can do to Make EVs More Popular
author: Vineeth Joel Patel   

With the adoption of stricter emissions and fuel regulations, electric cars have become more popular than ever. China is leading the way forward for the entire industry, as it looks to crack down on its poor air quality. The popularity of electric vehicles in China doesn't have an end in sight, as the country looks to move away from gasoline-powered vehicles for good.  


Unfortunately, while the rest of the world has already adopted electric vehicles, consumers in the United States have been a little hesitant about the technology. The range isn't there, the prices are still a little high, and the lack of a nationwide charging infrastructure are reasons for the decision to stick with gas-powered cars. Automakers haven't introduced a lot of electric vehicles, either, as the number of gas-powered options outweigh the number of EVs. 


What Can States Do To Help EVs Succeed?


Fortune recently put out a list of five things states in America can do to help electric vehicles get on the road quicker. They range from better education to electric companies providing support for the adoption of EVs.


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Educate Consumers And Retailers


When automakers, technology companies, and outlets talk about electric vehicles, some consumers might not know what that means. Sure, it's simple to break down, but a standard definition still doesn't exist for the eco-friendly cars. As Fortune points out, electric cars usually refer to plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) that can be charged through an external power source. 


Electric cars can than be further broken down to include plug-in hybrids (PEVs) that have a backup source of power, which usually comes from a gasoline-powered engine. Consumers usually confuse PEVs and regular hybrids, like the Toyota Prius, because they sound awfully similar. PEVs can be charged from an external power source, while hybrids can't. 


Again, this may sound confusing, but the majority of consumers still don't understand the little differences between the new wave of electrified cars. Fortune cites a survey that was conducted by The International Council on Clean Transportation that found the majority of consumers don't understand the different names and ways electric vehicles work. The situation becomes even more troublesome when you take tax rebates and breaks into consideration. 


While consumers continue to be a problem, dealers are starting to become a larger part of the issue. A lack of formal training is seeing car salesman push consumers away from electric vehicles and into gasoline-powered cars. They're more comfortable selling gas cars, so they're pushing them on consumers. The outlet believes that state programs that aid dealerships and consumers on electric vehicles could help the situation. 


Join The Zero-Emission Car Mandate


Under the Clean Air Act, California is requiring automakers to sell a specific amount of zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) every year. PEVs, full-on EVs, and fuel-cell cars all fall under that umbrella. Forunte believes that there's no reason for California to be the only state that has to follow that mandate. Other states can follow suit with a program of their own, or follow California's plan, to force automakers to put electrified cars onto the road, as only nine have gotten on board. 


The outlet cites a report from the Center for American Progress (CAP) when it states that joining or having a ZEV mandate is one of the most effective things a state can do to get more electric cars on the road. 


Increasing Charging Infrastructure, Adding Charging Incentives


At the moment, electric-car owners don't have too many options when it comes to charging their vehicle. The United States' EV infrastructure is sporadic at best and cluttered to major cities. That's something numerous companies and automakers are looking to change, like Volkswagen's Electrify America with its 39-state EV charging network, but that will take years to complete. 


States could give away financial incentives for companies that are looking into developing charging infrastructure. In addition to that, states could also give electric-vehicle owners tax credits and rebates to charge their vehicles. Tesla gives Model S owners 400-kW of free Supercharging credits, which equates to roughly 1,000 miles, every year for Model S and X owners. Other electric automakers should partner with EV infrastructure developers to come out with a similar plan. 


In addition to that, states could start layering incentives at the federal, state, and utility level to make EVs more cost-effective than gasoline-powered cars, claims Fortune. The outlet claims that a Maryland resident can get up to $13,500 off a Nissan Leaf or $20,500 off a BMW i3, spreading those incentives to other states would make electric vehicles more attractive. 


Countries like Norway, which has experienced a massive EV boom, have made EVs more popular because of government subsidies and tax breaks that make the machines just as valuable as gas-powered cars. 


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Use Volkswagen's Mitigation Trust Funds To The Fullest


One of the conditions of Volkswagen's diesel scandal was that the German automaker had to invest money into developing ZEV infrastructure in the United States. To do that, VW came out with Electrify America that would invest $2 billion into coming out with a network of charging stations. 


Under Electrify America, every state in the U.S. will receive $2.7 billion to fund projects to help reduce air pollution, states Fortune. Approximately 15 percent of the funds can go toward EV chargers, but only seven states have dedicated the full 15 percent to coming out with charging infrastructure. While other states are still working on finalizing their plans, it doesn't look like a lot of them are taking full advantage of the funds, which doesn't make a lot of sense. 


Electric Utility Companies Providing Support For EVs


The last area where states can lend a helping hand includes having electric utilities leveraging the industry's interest in the switch to electric vehicles and providing a new source of revenue, claims Fortune. The outlet points towards California where the state recently approved a $750 million spending plan from the three largest utilities in the state to build charging infrastructure for EVs. The plan also includes providing rebates to consumers that are looking to purchase an electric car. 


While these five things would help states draw more consumers toward electric vehicles, it could all be for nothing, as the current government is looking to move away from high fuel-efficiency standards. With a change in standards, automakers and states would have no reason to introduce and accept electric cars in the United States. 

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