Getting electric cars on the road ‘more important investment than charging stations’

Getting electric cars on the road is a bigger priority in promoting their use than funding charging stations, according to a new study by Yale researchers.

The report suggest that with higher electric vehicle (EV) adoption rates, the private market will take care of the infrastructure.

The researchers compared the funding model in New York, which ranks 25th in the US in new EV registration, against those in Georgia and California, two states with leading rates of EV adoption.

“It’s not at all clear that states funding public chargers is a good policy for growing EV adoption, especially when 90% of charging happens at home and market participants are building chargers in states where the government hasn’t done so,” said Eitan Hochster, a researcher at the Yale Center for Business and the Environment (CBEY) and one of the report’s authors.

“What is clear is that high usage rates – having more EVs on the road – is necessary to make installing chargers profitable.”

There has been 128% jump in sales of electric vehicles between 2012 and 2014, but they remain a tiny fraction of the total US automobile market.

Nevertheless, there is a demand for the vehicles under the right conditions. When the Nissan Leaf dropped its prices in 2013 by $1,000 there was a 35% increase in demand.

Bill Condie

Bill Condie

Bill Condie is a science journalist based in Adelaide, Australia.

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