Going electric

Based on the analysis in my previous post, if we are going to achieve our greenhouse gas reduction goals, drivers need to shift to electric vehicles.  Converting drivers who drive a lot each day will help the most. At the same time, our power grid needs to become greener.

Roughly, one-quarter or more of new vehicle sales in the state need to be electric over the next decade. That’s a big increase in market share — currently, only two or three percent of sales are electric.

Technology improvements and public policies favoring decarbonization have come together to create a lot of momentum towards electric vehicles. The major automakers are all promising electric vehicles for rollout over the next decade. Some analysts project that electric vehicle sales will grow nationally at a rate sufficient to support Massachusetts’ goals, but others project slower national adoption.

Strong national policy favoring electric vehicles is probably necessary to assure that Massachusetts is able to achieve its goals. Electric vehicles are still more expensive and less convenient to refuel than conventional vehicles, although the gap is closing fast.

We should elect federal legislators who support the strong emission regulations, including the special authority for more stringent regulations in California. Under a decades-old federal-state split of authority, California is the only state that can set its own auto emission standards and other states have the option of enforcing California standards.

California recently announced it will require all new passenger vehicles sold in the state to have zero emissions by 2035. Massachusetts was the first state to announce it would follow California’s lead. Our state law requires that Massachusetts adopt California standards where they are more stringent than federal standards, except in special circumstances.

Many European governments have already set a more aggressive target, banning internal combustion engine sales after 2030. Massachusetts leaders should advocate adoption of this more aggressive target by the federal government and/or by California.

We should also continue to invest in rebates and other incentives that make electric vehicles attractive for dealers to sell and attractive for consumers to buy. Our approach to incentives needs to be bolder and perhaps also more intelligently targeted.

Currently, Massachusetts offers a blanket $2,500 incentive for zero emission vehicles. This may not be enough to influence buying decisions — it may be an after-the-fact giveaway. Some argue that even the $7,500 federal tax credit does not much difference in buying decisions: It is only available for the first 200,000 vehicles sold by the manufacturer. Yet nationally, most electric vehicles sold come from the market leaders, Tesla and General Motors who have long ago sold enough vehicles to lose the incentive.

Certainly, there is some level at which incentives can start to make a large difference on consumer decisions and we should be willing to consider greater investment in incentives. President Biden’s “American Jobs Plan” will include substantial new incentives. Once those are defined, Massachusetts should re-examine its own incentives to determine how to supplement the national incentives. We should carefully consider how investments in incentives compare with other possible investments in reducing emissions and pollution.

We should also look for ways to target those investments to heavily-used vehicles. Since the carbon emissions in the lifecycle of a battery electric vehicle are more concentrated in the manufacture of the battery, a battery electric vehicle that is very lightly driven could actually be a carbon negative choice. (See the note on life cycle costs below.)

It also makes sense to target the fleets that cause pollution in urban areas, like delivery fleets, taxi fleets and Uber/Lyft drivers. Incentives to electrify taxi and Uber/Lyft vehicles could be conditioned on improved coordination of rider/share with public transit, so that trips could more easily include both modes.

I recently heard from a constituent a new suggestion: Massachusetts could help market electric vehicles to high emission households (taking care to protect privacy) using vehicle mileage and efficiency data from the registry of motor vehicles. This could turn out to be a low cost measure to effectively reduce emissions.

For equity and cost-effectiveness, we should consider means-testing the incentives. The easiest way to means-test incentives is to use tax credits instead of point-of-sale rebates, but this is less attractive for consumers than point-of-sale rebates.

The other big barrier to electric vehicle adoption is the charging network. At the gas pump, one can load in a minute or two enough fuel to travel three or four hundred miles. Typical household chargers only add 4-5 miles of range per hour of charging. Tesla’s 240V home charger takes ten or fifteen hours to give a range of 250 miles. The fastest Tesla supercharging stations take 15 minutes to give enough charge to drive 200 miles.

President Biden’s “American Jobs Plan” contemplates investing in 500,000 charging stations by 2030. This substantial public investment will allow consumers to buy electric vehicles with more confidence as to the availability of charging on the road. It remains to be seen what kind of charging speed the new public charging network will offer and what standards will govern its interaction with the rapidly evolving assortment of batteries offered by different manufacturers. Massachusetts may need to have its own initiative to complement the federal initiative and assure that all areas of the state are well served.

I revised this text on April 15 to incorporate the points related to life cycle cost and am still looking for more comments and critique.

Note on Life Cycle Carbon Costs of BEVs (4/14)

The analysis below suggests that the life cycle carbon emissions from a battery electric vehicle (if manufactured and charged on a very green grid) are approximately 83% below a comparably sized conventional vehicle. At Massachusetts current grid carbon intensity (see note below), the emissions savings are more modest — a reduction of 57% as compared to a conventional vehicle. The carbon savings on the Massachusetts grid would be reduced to approximately 30% if the battery has to replaced once in the full life of the vehicle. Carbon savings decline for people who drive less. Carbon savings from owning and driving an electric vehicle instead of a traditional or hybrid vehicle decline to zero or below if a person drives less than 2000 miles per year. Carbon savings are not very sensitive to the grid carbon intensity where the vehicle battery is manufactured, because much of the carbon emitted in manufacture is from manufacturing processes themselves, not from electric power used.

MIT did a great report on the future of mobility, which included some careful analysis of life cycle carbon emissions from battery electric vehicles. It was funded by oil companies and the auto industry, who do have an interest in pointing out the carbon costs of batteries, but it appears to be a comprehensive, thoughtful, objective, academic study. The study condensed the analysis into the following chart :

Source: MIT Energy Initiative, Insights into Future Mobility (2019), Figure 4.6, page 68.

The chart compares the relative emissions per mile traveled for several different power trains in vehicles of roughly the same size. The Camry HEV (Hybrid Electric) is the baseline of 1.0. On a full life cycle basis, the emissions from a battery electric vehicle (Honda Clarity BEV) are 25% below that of the base line HEV, assuming that the grid is only as green as the US average.

As the following chart from the MIT report shows, the relative efficiency of the BEV gets much better as the grid gets greener. With a “much ‘greener'” grid, the BEV has only 23% of the life cycle emissions of the hybrid.

Source: MIT Energy Initiative, Insights into Future Mobility (2019), Table 4.7 page 69.

To one commenters point below, yes: It is striking how much the battery adds to the life cycle emissions of the BEV. Most of the incremental vehicle production costs of the BEV over the ICEV (internal combustion engine vehicle) are the battery. If the battery is manufactured in China, where the grid power from coal plants is dirtier than the average US grid power, the carbon costs of manufacturing go up from what is shown above. However, the effect of adjusting the grid power to Chinese emission levels only raises the US average scenario to .79 from .75. See note below.

The life cycle analysis highlights the importance of targeting support for battery electric vehicles for those who drive a lot. The person who is already using public transportation or cycling to meet much of their needs does not necessarily benefit the environment by keeping an electric car in their garage.

Note: The sensitivity analysis in MIT chart 4.5 reproduced above shows a drop from .75 to .71 by substituting Washington grid carbon for manufacturing. That adjustment (436-101 = 335) is roughly the same as the adjustment to Chinese grid carbon but in the other direction (774-436 = 338), in other words an increase to .79. To get to the exact same result in a more elaborate way, one can back out the underlying model’s values for key parameters by solving simple linear questions using the model variations in Table 4.4. With these parameters, one can estimate values for the Massachusetts grid as in the text. See computations here.

Note on Battery Production Constraints (4/13)

A couple of commenters raised the issue of battery production constraints, specifically supply of lithium. I spoke with Professor Bill Green of MIT about this. The general gist of opinion seems to be that the supply of lithium is widespread around the world and that while production may occasionally lag needs, there is no long-term supply constraint. Same answer for necessary “rare earth” minerals. Cobalt is a riskier component — current supply is concentrated in the Congo where political stability is an issue. But even for cobalt, there is an expectation that world supply will respond to demand and/or that technology will evolve around the constraint. Supply of raw materials will, however, set a floor on the ongoing reduction of battery prices and recycling of battery metals will become economically important.

Here are several articles on the point. I welcome additional information on this:

Published by Will Brownsberger

Will Brownsberger is State Senator from the Second Suffolk and Middlesex District.

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118 Comments

  1. I have an EV and love it, but re charging stations, there is an app to locate the high-speed chargers, and, besides on the Pike, there are some at auto sales sites. However, when I pull in to use that charger, it is broken. *sadface*

  2. I would love to buy an electric vehicle, but my hybrid is only a few years old, I’m investing in heat pumps and the solar to power them, and I can’t afford to make this investment at this time. I think I would buy a Kona, if I had the money – I’d need a car that is still eligible for a rebate.

  3. I am fully supportive of your views as well as your inquiries into some of the tougher open questions. Thank you for your actions in this critical area of environmental legislation.

  4. As someone who already drives an electric vehicle, the significant drawback is the rate of charging and availability of charging stations. We live in a nation where many people like to take long road trips. You could never do that today. I can’t even drive to the Vineyard, stay for a day or two and get enough of a charge to make it back! So until the battery technology improves drivers will be limited. Or keep that fossil fuel or hybrid/fossil fuel vehicle on standby for long road trips! 2030 is just around the corner and I think that the goal is not realistic, though laudable.

  5. To repeat the point I made in your Zoom session: many residents, especially condo owners, park in external, open, parking lots. It is very hard to see how these car owners can participate in these goals, let alone what they are going to do when internal combustion cars are no longer available. They are probably going to need individual chargers at each parking space, and given the way we plough out our parking spaces in the winter, the cables powering those chargers are going to have to be buried. And that is a very expensive process, too expensive for lots of folks. I do not see a solution to this problem. If anyone else does, please help me out. I would very grateful and not just me, I assure you.

      1. I’ve always wondered if gas stations could be converted to battery swapping stations. You would pull up and simply swap your depleted battery out for a freshly charged one. The cars are probably not engineered for this swapping of batteries idea, but this would eliminate the problem of taking ours to charge a battery.

        1. Nice idea!
          Technological question first: can this be done? If yes, can it be made to be done quickly (e.g., 10min v. 1-2 hours) to unfix, change-out, re-connect.
          Money, money — incentives for stores/service stations that offer this service?

          1. The Beijing taxi company has implemented battery swap stations. All the cars are identical and the batteries are owned by the company so no issue if some batteries do not work as well as others. This is attractive if you don’t have option of recharging the vehicle overnight at home. But it requires a lot of cooperation/standardization, and extra capital to set up the system. So far only viable for vehicle fleets.

      2. how’s bout incentives for parking-space owners (condo/coop orgs, supermarket/mall managers, etc.) — any place that has significant (> than ???spaces) parking spaces — to install EV chargers?
        believe it or not, I was in San Antonio TX for few years, and there were many mall/supermarket lots where there were 4-8 EV charging stations. not a lot, but idea has value — and perhaps we could go big — 15-20 EV charging spaces in a large lot? multiple areas/levels in parking spaces with 5-10 EV chargers?

    1. I’m a convert and as soon as my current car dies, it’s electric for me! The good news is that it should be well before 2030. I’m also looking forward to the day when I’ll feel safe using public transportation. As always, thanks for the informative update, Will!

  6. Does Zip Car have electric vehicles. I’m thinking of not replacing my car when it dies and switching to Zip Car.

      1. I have been using ZipCar, and no sign of electric vehicles. Also, few to no hybrids.
        Perhaps, under guise of “ride-sharing” it would make sense to lump taxis, Lyft, Uber, all car rental companies (ZipCar, Enterprise, Budget/Avis, et al) into either incentive and/or regulation slate:

        — no idea what are the “fees” to each of these vendors, but introduce reduced “fees” if EV cars (bypass hybrids — still consume petrol). “fees” == any tax, fee, license, etc. that must be paid by the ride-share firm/driver just to do the work.

        — target date/year for %-of-fleet transition to EV: e.g., 2025 20%, 2028 40%, etc. keep in mind that these kinds of firms do bulk/fleet purchase, so this may not be as aggressive(negative) as on first glance.

        — reduced EZdrive fees — say, reduce by 30-50% the EZdrive fees for EVs? (all EZdrive are electronic, so the type of car, tied to tag, is known).

        — tax incentives for folks like this person who choose to use ride-sharing (broader definition == zipcar + uber/lyft/taxi + rental companies), just like the current mileage allowance for business driving — a mileage allowance for rental car mileage used (may seem counterintuitive, but give more incentive for more ride-share — escalates the disincentive to own).

  7. These are very good proposals and directions. A few points:
    1) Targeting the heaviest vehicle users of fossil fuels makes good sense.
    2) Change the incentive structure to lower the cost of EV purchase so it’s on par with gas vehicles. No need for incentive programs–just lower the sticker price.
    3) Seriously ramp up the high speed charging infrastructure so it’s no longer an impediment.
    4) Let’s consider incentivizing shorter trips. Our addiction to long road trips is just that, an addiction. Can we decentivize the go-it-alone, one car one passenger paradigm that has ruled our society?
    5) Rail should be subsidized so it’s a reasonable way to go.

    We’ve GOT to solve this problem, and soon!

  8. It is good to see your focused attention on directing subsidies towards cars that are most utilized and towards owners most in need of subsidy.
    But I have yet to see from anyone an analysis that persuasively argues that government subsidies for purchase of electric vehicle subsidies is an exceedingly economically efficient method of reducing GHGs.
    Where is the convincing analysis that carefully weighs alternative approaches and comes to that conclusion?
    Asking a search engine: “are subsidies for electric cars the most effective way to reduce ghg?” does not produce a resounding “Yes!”
    And I continue to question whether we should allude to “zero emissions” electric vehicles given material like this: https://unctad.org/news/developing-countries-pay-environmental-cost-electric-car-batteries

  9. I w1anted to purchase a Tesla but after reading many negative comments about its ergonomics and quality coupled with a near $50K price I was unable to justify purchasing one. Until prices are reduced and charging is more efficient and plentiful, I guess the hybrids are going to be the best compromise.

    1. I concur. The cost of an EV is lost in the alleged energy saving or transfer of greenhouse gas emissions to the power generation plants. Not to mention the impracticalities of the length of charging (and time lost waiting).

  10. Given the price of electric vehicles (a Tesla is about $35K), I’ll never own one. However, living in Boston means that I don’t really need a car at all. If public transportation goes electric and let’s say all of the rental cars are electric (and are still affordable), I won’t need to buy my own electric vehicle. What we will need are a sufficient number of charging stations in good repair.

      1. What if rental car customers don’t want to rent them due to anticipated problems with charging on longer trips?

        1. I thought about that. I’ll have to take an electric bus or train to those far off destinations. It will feel like being in Europe, again. I enjoyed sitting back with a book and having someone else do the driving of an electric vehicle.

  11. One more thing along with taxes to drive most people out of the state of massachusetts! You will never change mother nature. Thanks again for the screw job!!!

  12. Yes, charging stations are a major problem. I bought a Tesla when their prices came down and chargers were installed at my condo. I had no idea it would take five months before we could get Eversource to activate them. Those five months introduced me to the charging problem. All the Boston Tesla charging stations are in garages with high parking fees. Cambridge installed two city chargers in the Russell Field parking lot, but there were no signs saying others could not park there. I contacted the city, and after a month or two they installed the signs. But the spaces continued to be used by commuters. I contacted the city again about ticketing the cars, but was told they cannot ticket non-electric cars for parking at the chargers. We are communities of apartment houses and condos. We need cities to provide chargers that are not in places where there is inadequate parking for other cars or costly parking garages.

    1. AGree that we should do more to ensure chargers are available at all city lots. If that parking lot had 8 more chargers, which we will need in the not too distant future, it would be better. I am working to see about a faster roll out of public charging stations.

  13. Will…could you please answer a few questions re your “zero emission” musing? The Chinese are building coal-fired generating capacity at flank speed (>3 large plants/month) to, among many things, mine the non-renewable precious metals and manufacture the core materials required for LiO batteries. How can you with a straight face call a vehicle with a 900 lb, non-renewable, non-recyclable battery, manufactured with coal-generated electricity and slave-labor-mined raw materials, “zero emissions”? Oh, and wait, re-charged 2X/week you say?? Unless you are planning on building 5-7 more Seabrook stations (as we would were we serious about these matters), where exactly do you think the “zero emissions” power will come from to charge all of these megatons of toxic, flammable, non-renewable batteries? Perhaps you will say with some Chinese solar panels, filled with the same materials plus a lot of plastics derived from oil? Sure…please report back on a snowy January night and tell me what your output is. You admitted in your last sermon that the actual important growth has been in gas power generation…not, last I checked, anywhere close to “zero” emissions. Your “plans” all sound great as long as you know nothing of engineering and thermodynamics and ignore the underlying “inconvenient truths”.

      1. I’d like to know what Jon’s solution is for
        Global Warming. It’s easy to knock solutions like ‘electrify everything’ and ‘where will all that power come from’, but what are you proposing, Jon. Your solution is to keep doing just what we are doing now.

      2. Jon,
        This is a typical non-answer that you will get when confronting Will with the
        actualities of electric powered cars, and cobalt and lithium mining.

    1. Thanks for the reality check. Physics are a funny thing – once you get to talk real numbers.
      Let’s see them shut off all power plants, except solar and wind. Let them celebrate the twelve EVs on the road afterwards.

      1. Excellent points Jon. The source of the power and how we could increase the electric power grid exponentially are things we can’t gloss over. And even more important is how this would make us even more reliant on China.

      2. I think we saw how that works recently in Texas ? Meanwhile some actual “green” power from HydroQuebec is still unavailable due to some nimbys who don’t want power lines spoiling their view….remember Cape Wind? Physics is a bitch; good luck recharging your EV when there’s 20 cars ahead of you waiting for a recharge, your day trip will take a week. As others have mentioned China (and India) are going full bore with coal plants, so why do we need to gimp tiny Massachusetts to virtue signal? Almost glad to be old, I’ll stay warm in my natural gas heated home while the rest of the state slides back to the Stone Age.

        1. Renewables overperformed in the Texas outage, and the grid is what failed. Renewables were in no way a cause or negative in the Texas situation

  14. I have two points:
    1) subsidies for EVs are quick to put in place. The bigger barrier to adoption will be broad access to quick charging stations. If you don’t own your own garage, home charging is not an option. The existing network of gas stations is a good example of what EVs would eventually need. Is there some way to incentivize existing service stations to gradually replace gas pumps with superchargers?
    2) you mentioned the idea of marketing to high emissions households; if that takes the form of targeted advertising, then there is little downside to that. But if it takes the form of higher subsidies for those, then that would be unfair, because it rewards bad behavior and people would game the system by buying used high emissions vehicles just to replace them later and get the higher subsidy.

  15. I think most of the posters have covered the issues hindering us to getting all electric by 2030 they are: infrastructure, speed of charging and costs of vehicles. I believe the Tesla technology for charging is very good but they are the only ones with that technology. The other vendors use a different(slower) technology for charging.

    • We need to have an electric vehicle with price point at 20K or less.
    • We need to be able to drive these vehicles at least 250-350 miles without a charge.
    • We need to be able to charge car in 15 min or less(trips of 5hrs to another location would be reasonable for many in US).
    • We need to feel that we can safely find a charging station(15min) at reasonable distances(as gas stations are today though possibly less are needed:>).
    • Those that do not have parking at their homes need to be able to go to a charging “farm” nearby to charge overnight. (Motels/Hotels/Visiting out of state relatives…)
    • We need the electricity to come from clean sources.
    Once we can hit these bullet points, we will be on our way quickly.
    We would also need a phased approach to fossil fuel vehicles(phasing them out along with gas stations).
    One manner would be to have greater MPG per vehicles as we have that technology too but choose not to use it.
    Or push hybrids more(costs are also expensive and need better charging).

      1. News bulletin Will: engineers have been working on this problem since Maxwell and Faraday. The only thing those geniuses got right was “someday you will tax it”. The reality is, if you were serious about reducing the faux-crisis “emissions” of plant food, that is C02, you would build up vastly more nuclear capacity. But I know that completely practical and cost-effective solution is not allowed in the church of woke, so we will continue on outsourcing our “emissions” and jobs and prosperity to China, where they are laughing at us. But at least the Brattle street crew can feel oh-so-smug in their Teslas and virtue panels, richly subsidized by us working class rate payers, built by slave labor and coal power.

        1. Preach, Jon. Looking forward to MA doing its best impression of California’s rolling blackouts and skyrocketing electric bills.
          It strikes me as odd that none of the climate activists are aware of or promote gen IV nuclear. But Will has indicated he will be looking into that.
          Also PAVE THE ROADS.

        2. Hi Jon, very well said! Too bad emissions free nuclear power is verboten; meanwhile green hydropower from Canada is still tied up by people fighting the Northern Pass power line. Don’t think all those windmills and solar panels worked out for the people in Texas. I just love paying double what the rest of the country does for electricity. Thanks for being one of the few sane/practical people on this post.

  16. I am generally not a fan of direct subsidies to car ownership, as it is has the perverse incentive of artificially reducing the cost of driving and encourages people to drive more. We do need people to switch from gas vehicles to electric. However, the biggest barrier I see is not the cost of the vehicles but the availability of charging stations, both on private and public property.

    A direct subsidy against the purchase of a vehicle already tends to favor those of higher incomes who live in single family homes where they can easily install their own charging station. Those who live in more urban areas where they use shared private parking or public on-street parking are unlikely to purchase an electric vehicle even with a subsidy because they do not have access to charging stations nor the ability to install one for their own personal use.

    If we are to subsidize anything, it would be the installation of charging stations. We could provide subsidizes and incentives to residents, employers, commercial property owners, private parking operators, and municipalities. We could even mandate at the state level that municipalities and private parking operators install a certain number of charging stations by particular dates.

    Another disturbing trend is the increasing size and weight of motor vehicles. These vehicles get better gas mileage and pollute less than older ones, however vehicle manufacturers have sacrificed much of these gains by making vehicles larger, heavier, and more expensive. These vehicles are also far more dangerous to people walking, bicycling, or driving older smaller vehicles. We are in a vehicle arms race that is working against nearly all of our goals for safer roads and less pollution. The state needs to incentive vehicle makes and vehicle buyers to buy vehicles that are smaller and lighter and more efficient, not larger and heavier. (Many people would prefer this as well, but do not feel safe doing so because most vehicles are so large and heavy now.)

    Lastly, in addition to encouraging the adoption of electric cars, we should also be incentivizing and encouraging people to use smaller personal electric vehicles in the place of car trips where possible, for example e-bikes, e-scooters, etc. These are small and efficient and especially for people commuting alone have far less negative impacts that cars. A credit towards purchasing e-bike and e-scooters could be useful. However, for people in urban areas who may live in apartments, finding a place to store an e-bike can be challenging. Municipalities, landlords, and property owners should be encouraged and incentivized to install secure parking facilities in both commercial and resident areas for e-bikes, e-scooters, cargo bikes, and regular bikes. We really need an all-of-the-above approach towards adopting cleaner and more efficient ways of getting around if we are going to meet our goals of reducing emissions AND reducing traffic congestion.

    1. Very actionable suggestion: “The state needs to incentive vehicle makes and vehicle buyers to buy vehicles that are smaller and lighter and more efficient, not larger and heavier.”
      And yes, it’s not one vehicle.

      1. A suggestion I’ve seen is to revise safety standards to include safety to other vehicles, pedestrians, etc. and not just the passengers in the vehicle. This would disincentivize giant heavy cars that protect the people inside them but are a greater danger to those outside and more harmful to the environment.

        1. How many SUVs do you see on the road? How many of you own one or two of them? In my opinion, those are the cars that need to be eliminated (along with the Lincolns, Bentleys, Hummers, etc… but there are more SUVs). Not only are they consuming more fuel than a Corolla, they are not statistically all that safe. They are top heavy compared to smaller sedans and tip and flip. I feel safe in my Corolla.

          1. I disagree. My Mercedes S63 AMG Cabriolet is extremely safe. You have no right to suggest it be “eliminated”. I paid for it, I can afford the gas it consumes, and I have the right to own it and use it. Period. As you can with your Corolla…
            I feel safe in my Mercedes.

  17. I realized that the real goal isn’t to promote electric vehicles; the real goal is to reduce vehicle emissions. Maybe instead of rewarding purchases of EVs, we should be rewarding disposing of high emissions vehicles. That is more directly correlated with the desired change. One way to do that would be instead of subsidizing EV purchases, the state could use that money to have a high emissions vehicle buyback program.

  18. One of the issues I have with electric car policies is that they require significant amounts of money to make the switch, even for the cheapest options, and the fail to tackle the “geometry problem” of continually cramming more metal boxes onto Boston’s streets. Why not a policy that gets people onto electric cargo bikes? Or that encourages more transit and denser neighborhoods? An electric car will be financially out of reach for my family for a long time, but better busses, trains, sidewalks, and bike lanes are something I could use immediately to get around in a low-carbon manner.

  19. I can’t see how 25% of new car sales could be electric by then. So many people park in their driveways or on the street. We are going to move to a condo with garage parking underneath. There are no outlets much less charging stations in the garage. Not every space is next to a pillar that could get electricity in it. Think about all the people who go to the Cape or Maine on weekends, with terrible traffic, and then park outside once there. How will they get back? It will take many years before charging the car or having a long life battery can solve these common problems. Certainly not by 2030 or 2035.

  20. I see that housing stock determines the possibility of private charging. Most housing in urban areas, like mine, prevents that possibility.

    I support that towns/cities/state need to step up and provide public charging spots spread spread across our cities/towns on public or institutional land (schools/parks/libraries/parking garages/courthouses/playing fields/colleges/ prisons/ hospitals/ and more).
    Also gas stations should be converted to EV charging spots, rather than housing , when possible bc they are spread out across town on major streets.

  21. California’s climate policies caused rolling blackouts during a heatwave last summer, remember? Why are we aiming to follow in their footsteps?

      1. We don’t have to adopt all of their policies to end up in the same situation. This one will likely be enough.

  22. Agree that commercial/ heavy-use fleets must lead the way and convert to electric, as well as freight/18-wheelers. Reduced or eliminated tolls for electric vehicles (or increased tolls for combustion) throughout the EZPass network might help motivate change. What will it take to get MBTA to convert commuter rail from diesel to electric, especially on routes already electrified for Amtrak? Thank you.

  23. Agree that commercial/ heavy-use fleets must lead the way and convert to electric, as well as freight/18-wheelers. Reduced or eliminated tolls for electric vehicles (or increased tolls for combustion) throughout the EZPass network might help motivate change. Curious what gas station owner input is? Can they evolve into new services areas to remain relevant? What will it take to get MBTA to convert commuter rail from diesel to electric, especially on routes already electrified for Amtrak? Thank you.

    1. It is relatively straightforward and a good idea to convert some trucks to run on batteries. But it is not practical with current technology for long-haul heavy-duty 18 wheeler trucks because they use so much energy and need to be on the road so many hours each day (the battery would have to be huge, and cost more than the rest of the truck). Also the truck engines are about twice as efficient as gasoline engines, so the percent improvement in greenhouse gas emissions from converting a diesel to electricity is not as great as with passenger cars. Most engineers think it is a better idea to electrify the lighter vehicles (cars, pickups, delivery vans) first.

  24. The only medium-term solution I see to the problem I raised earlier — what to do about the people committed to outdoor parking spaces (that problem being that the high expense of burying the wires running to their chargers so those wires will not be torn up by snowplows) is to have a very large and very functional fleet of shared ride electric vehicles. If the fleet is large enough (and the rides it provides cheap enough) nobody will need cars, parking spaces, and chargers at all. But that day is not close. 2030 seems impossibly soon. Love to be proven wrong.

    1. The notion of a fleet of shared electric vehicles is definitely important. It tends to be combined with the idea of autonomous vehicles — Uber with a self driving vehicles. Autonomous Connected Electric Shared vehicles — ACES. With or without autonomy, the notion of shared electric vehicles has a place in this conversation.

      1. I think that only young and/or low income people will welcome sharing vehicles – and only out of necessity. Most people view private vehicles – their own – as extensions of their personal space at home – places where they can transport and leave some personal items, and where they don’t need to worry about catching the newest variant of Covid-45. They won’t give it up.

  25. I have difficulty subsidizing people who don’t need it. I like the idea of a tax credit to level the playing field.

    Charging station fees should cover cost of the station and instillation.

    New forms of nuclear power should be built.

  26. Somewhat tangential… but in considering the full range of possible legislative approaches to reducing GHG emissions, the question arises, among many others, whether the Commonwealth could and should ban the sale here of fish derived from bottom trawling… Or at least, initially, work to ensure far better traceability/provenance tracking, GHG emissions estimation and consumer education than is extant currently.
    “Fishing boats that trawl the ocean floor release as much carbon dioxide as the entire aviation industry, according to a groundbreaking study.
    “Bottom trawling, a widespread practice in which heavy nets are dragged along the seabed, pumps out 1 gigaton of carbon every year, says the study written by 26 marine biologists, climate experts and economists and published in Nature on Wednesday.
    “The carbon is released from the seabed sediment into the water, and can increase ocean acidification, as well as adversely affecting productivity and biodiversity, the study said. Marine sediments are the largest pool of carbon storage in the world.”
    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/mar/17/trawling-for-fish-releases-as-much-carbon-as-air-travel-report-finds-climate-crisis
    And similarly a few weeks back in the NY Times:
    https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/17/climate/climate-change-oceans.html

  27. Having an Electric Vehicle is convenient if you have a charger at your home, since you can charge the car while you sleep, so most mornings your battery is fully charged and you have full driving range. The overnight home chargers are not expensive. I guess about half of MA residents have their own driveway or park in a garage (it would be important to get good numbers on this). I think the state should focus its effort this decade on getting the people in that situation to switch to EVs, and to get large numbers of home and garage chargers installed, so that when people shop for a car they will not be inhibited about buying an EV. (This is in addition to efforts to install faster chargers. But it is going to be a long time before we have enough fast chargers to support millions of electric vehicles.) I think trying to persuade people without good charging options to buy an EV is unlikely to be successful.

  28. Instead of incentivizing EV purchases (which can benefit this who don’t need it), or taxing gasoline purchases (which can harm those with no choice), why not provide a tax deduction for charging an electric vehicle? Commercial fleets would benefit. Car renters and rental fleets with EVs would benefit. Charging infrastructure would get built by the private sector (multi unit dwellings, commercial parking lots, gas stations, etc).

  29. Today battery powered cars are much more expensive than gasoline cars. I think subsidies (or some sort of tax credit or other incentives) are going to continue to be needed for next few years. Maybe the feds will handle this, but it is possible the state might need to contribute. Hopefully before 2030 the EV prices will drop enough that they become cost competitive even without subsidies, and the subsidies can be ended. Then people will make decisions more based on convenience (eg of charging). If the state has done a good job getting many many chargers installed by then, then it is plausible that most citizens would be willing to buy an EV.

    1. A few studies show a Tesla model 3 to have a similar 5 year cost of ownership to a Camry. Half that of a similarly priced Audi… The challenge there is financing. Perhaps a program of zero percent auto loans would be helpful. We could give a tax credit on EV auto loans. As to the power generation question, we need a lot more homes and businesses with solar panels, keeping in mind that the grid is needed on rainy days.

  30. The big auto makers (GM, etc) are resisting the transition to EVs for as long as possible (regardless of what they say). The car dealers association is resisting even harder. GM sells EVs for their clean energy credits to achieve federal CAFE (corporate average fuel economy) goals. I drive a 2017 Chevy Bolt and it’s a great car, but they sell under 25K of them every year as a compliance car to enable them to sell big GMC trucks, the heart of their profits. My Bolt requires no maintenance other than tires now and then…no oil change, no tune up, no transmission, no exhaust system, relatively few moving parts. EVs with power supplied by the utility cost 1/2 the cost ‘per mile’ compared to a gas car, although I charge mine with my solar panels for free. My panels charge my house, my EV and my son’s GF’s EV. Free. We need to get rid of the Federal CAFE rules governing car sales…Tesla gets to sell all its ‘clean energy’ credits to car companies so they can sell big trucks. Directly require cars to be clean, not corporate averages achieved by trading credits. EVs must charge faster…it’s not battery technology but the engineering to cool the battery while charging. Some EVs have no explicit cooling and warn you to wait after charging for the batteries to cool down. Tesla is doing almost everything right, and right now they are the only car manufacturer with a future. Municipal garages need to allow local people to park at their charge stations overnight for free/cheap (charge for the power). Work places must install chargers for workers to charge while parked there. Install chargers at all ‘Park’n Rides’. Install chargers where people leave their cars for lengths of time like commuter rail parking or Alwife. There’s lots to do to make this happen.

  31. I live on Comm Ave in Brighton. There are apartments/condos packed in like sardines as far as the eye can see. People around here park on the street – cars park bumper-to-bumper overnight as far as the eye can see. They don’t have garages! How are they supposed to recharge??

  32. While we wait for ubiquitous charging stations, and for EV costs to fall, why not incentive hybrids more? Let’s face it, going fully EV is currently completely impractical for most of us, no matter the incentive. Hybrids are the best short term compromise.

  33. I realize my perspective is not universal since I am retired and own a single-family home but I think we need more positive marketing messages about how FUN it is to drive an EV. I hardly ever see any marketing for EVs! No merge-in anxieties on 128!
    Given the understandable range anxiety – a very good market is two-car retired households. The round-about-town car can be EV and the long trip car can be fossil fuel [or plug-in hybrid]. I recommend people consider adding a home charger as just the cost of acquisition.
    We have a Chevy Bolt [fairly compact] and though I drive it most often around town, my 6’2” husband also loves to drive it.

  34. I would like you to share some facts with your audience. Please bear with me.
    My high school and undergraduate education during the 70’s climate fear was
    “Global Cooling”. If the USA didn’t address this in ten years the artic shelf and glaciers would be covering a good portion of North
    America creating an ice age.
    End result after 10 years. Zero
    Then came Kerry and gore, trying not to digress, exclaiming “global warming”
    If we don’t address this issue in ten years,
    Are you detecting a pattern, the artic ice patch will melt and by 2014 we will be under water. End result Zero
    Now we have a new catch phrase from the
    Saul Alinsky playbook “Climate Change “
    According to aoc, I have to digress, an embarrassment to my alma mater, the world will end 7 years. I ll go out in a limb here and say end result zero.
    If you and your cohorts really believe in the drastic change in the world’s climate then gather your forces and take action against the world’s largest polluters, the CCP.
    The CCP is building more coal fired, heavy polluting plants, that outweighs your carbon
    Free solutions.
    In addition, your leaving out an important fact of alternative energy production of electricity. Electricity costs will skyrocket and your middle to lower income constituents will become energy poor.
    Take steps and Attack the root cause, otherwise this is just another government control policy.
    I suggest take steps down the street in Cambridge to MIT. Take all your money in rebates, etc. and support MIT’s research in
    Nuclear fusion.

  35. The charging station issue is important, particularly in historic districts. There could be subsidies to encourage private charging stations, some of which have already been installed in rear yards in the Back Bay, but on street chargers would have to be carefully designed so as not to be a blight on the streetscape. That said, it seems more logical to go after the low-hanging fruit like rental cars and fleet vehicles first, at least until adequate batteries can be developed.

  36. GOING ALL ELECTRIC WILL NOT MAKE ECONOMIC SENSE UNTIL WE GET A LOT OF OFF-SHORE WIND..

    1. Wind and solar are not reliable enough to base the entire economy or transportation system on. Also, we need to leave the poor ocean and it wildlife alone.

  37. I’d like to see a focus on accelerating deployment of electric-truck fleets. Since they often work in predictable driving ranges and are shut down overnight, the recharging problem is clearly defined and easier to manage. It would make a lot of sense for the state to spend some money replacing all gas and diesel fueled school buses with electric buses. That would also have significant benefits for school-children’s lungs.

  38. We have owned a Tesla since 2016. It is a vastly superior experience to any previous car we have owned. Key to the Tesla success is the supercharger network. ALL other charging systems fail because they are not reliably maintained or have too few chargers at a location and can fill up. Any government support for charging must stress immediate maintenance. I have never known a government program to be successful in the area of maintenance. If you have the money then the only reason to not buy a Tesla is stupidity (and ignorance). Thus the government support should be provided only to those who do not have the money. This means no tax breaks but rather direct subsidy to those with limited incomes and loans to businesses.
    The primary government function should be providing information on the dangers of fossil fuel and the advantages of battery electric.

  39. The free market should determine what people purchase not government, not the panic peddlers.
    Every generation of Americans have an obligation to preserve freedom for the next generation not to surrender to government control junkies.
    We should not be denied choice or intimated by government police power setting unrealistic goals.
    I am concerned one wrong move in the South China Sea and the world could be at war. Millions again will die just like the last World War.
    To the panic peddlers you are barking up the wrong tree.

  40. As some others have mentioned, the charging network infrastructure will need to be built out to give people comfort. Right now, electric vehicles are great for getting around the metro area and some somewhat longer drives. But beyond 180-200 miles, with current charging infrastructure and batteries, it can become difficult to manage a day trip or more to longer distance destinations. I’m expecting this will change, but business and marketplace incentives are a good way for government to think about assisting.

  41. I strongly believe that the charging technology for electric vehicles will improve over time. Look at how computers have changed in the past decade. That being said, I think that government subsidies should be prioritized for the biggest polluters, such as truck fleets, followed by low-income people who don’t live near public transportation.

  42. President Biden has stated the goal of 500,000 charging stations in the next few years. There are reportedly (per Google) about 168,000 gas stations in the U.S. Unless the plan is for each gas station to have 3 charging stations, then there will need to be many more charging stations in homes. One way to “incentivize” this is to change zoning regulations requiring charging in each new home; this would be similar to requiring new homes to be fossil fuel-free, a movement that is gaining momentum.

    Another option with a double benefit would be to equip MBTA parking lots with charging stations. The cost of the parking would be offset by the ability to charge one’s car free. This would encourage greater use of mass transit and use of zero-emission cars at the same time.

  43. EVs will surely be practical at some point and will bring benefits of clean air and also less dependency of the world on oil producers. Makes sense to subsidize it slightly to bring this time closer. It is madness to make EVs a goal in itself and focus all economic resources on it, while dismissing practical ways to improve both environment and West economic standing v. autocracies – gas, fracking, nuclear. Especially, when you are using taxpayer money. If you insist on an idea that half of the taxpayers do not support – feel free to start an investment fund with your own goals.

  44. I think that Beacon Hill is playing with fire (endangering our economy) by considering mandating electric vehicles by 2030 or 2035 – before they become more affordable and there is infrastructure that makes it possible to use them – and getting that will take decades, not several or a dozen years.

    And even then, not everyone will want to give up gasoline powered cars — and if you force that on everyone (by outlawing gas stations, for example), you would be creating a potential large-scale disaster in the event that our power grid fails for any reason down the road (be it terrorism, sabotage by crazies, natural disaster, war, etc.)

    The costs of building charging stations everywhere will be astronomical, and I don’t think that the taxpayers of this state want to foot the bill for that. We have so many other needs – and the cost of maintaining the social safety net will only be going up due to the continuous mishandling of immigration (currently on full display on our southern border).

    Most people in Boston and other urban areas live in apartment buildings and park on the street. Charging a vehicle takes time – and it will be expensive, because a lot of room (hard to come by in cities) will be needed to let so many cars sit somewhere and charge every other night or so.

    I cannot imagine building those charging stations along the curbs across the city. The huge costs notwithstanding, we would lose many, many street trees which are so precious in the urban environment.

    Across the state (and throughout the country), most families will want to own a normal gasoline powered vehicle for longer trips (especially family vacation trips), and an electric one for short trips to run daily errands.

    I don’t understand why climate activists in the US have not been pushing for wider use of very efficient subcompact cars (incl. two-seaters) that would be using very little gasoline. Most people don’t need to drive large, heavy 4-seat cars in their daily lives – but they do because that’s what the auto industry has been marketing. Where were all the climate activists then?

    Since our electrical grid will not be ready for EVs used on a massive scale any time soon, perhaps our legislature can allocate some money in the state budget for publicizing small, efficient cars, as well as hybrids – and give people rebates for chucking gas guzzlers. Some PR firm should be hired to make small and very efficient cars become cool and sexy in the eyes Massachusetts consumers.

    EVs are a great idea – as long as you ignore the fact that their batteries will be polluting the Earth, and producing the electricity those cars will need will not be 100% emissions-free either. Whoever assumed that our state can or should eliminate gasoline powered cars by 2030 or 2035 is extremely unrealistic.

  45. Senator,
    One thing that I haven’t seen raised yet is that the current “point of sale” rebate is not actually at the point of sale! I recently bought an EV and it took several months from when I purchased the EV until I was able to collect the rebate. To the extent that rebates remain part of the solution long-term, we should work on ways for that “point of sale” rebate to actually be applied at the point of sale — some states do this.

    Relatedly, I think the shift from POS rebate to means tested tax credit is not smart. The purpose of this incentive is not to be part of the social safety net, it’s to get people to buy more EVs! If you means test the tax credit, you will either:
    -Means test it at so high a level that few people will be subject to the phaseout, adding administrative complexity for almost no fiscal benefit
    -Means test it so that it phases out for a significant number of consumers who are still at an income where they are price-sensitive about cars, thus undermining the ostensible purpose of the policy, which is increase EV sales!

    PLUS:
    The federal tax credit is means tested this way and I can say from personal experience that a big problem that comes from that is that car dealers don’t feel like they can advertise the rebate. I knew about the rebate and asked dealers, and the universal answer was something like “I dunno man, it’s a tax thing ask a tax lawyer.” Whereas for the state rebate they felt able to say “yup send in this card and they’ll send you $2500.” The purpose of the rebates is it equalize the up-front costs between ICE vehicles and EVs, but they can’t effectively do it if dealers don’t think they can talk about the rebates as effectively reducing the price.

  46. @Will and staff — one “simple” thing that the Commonwealth could do it provide better data to towns and cities. Belmont has passed a roadmap on vehicle adoption and we’ve made several requests to MAPC and RMV to get answer a simple question, “How many EVs are in our town?” Nothing. As cities and towns try to plan for EVs, including meeting their own fleet targets and thinking about charger locations, having information is critical. The lack of data has been frustrating. I value privacy, but there ought to be a way to provide aggregate data of make/model/year in a zip code.

  47. I was considering Tesla Y. Tried it another day. Loved it, but couldn’t fit in my garage. So, probably it will be Toyota Sienna. No viable e-options for kids in tow now…

  48. I suspect all on this board want emission free autos and the potential for fast seamless charging. What is mostly missing from the conversation is the required electrical production to support the pivot to electric transportation. IMHO without technological breakthroughs in renewables, current thinking on natural gas and nuclear greatly limit the transition.

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