Potential Challenges and Research Needs in Reaching 100% Zero Emission Vehicle Sales in California: A Focus on Plug-in Electric Vehicles

Research Team: Scott Hardman (lead), Dahlia Garas, Amrita Chakraborty, Kelly Hoogland, and Claire Sugihara

UC Campus(es): UC Davis

Problem Statement: Research is beginning to highlight various challenges that need to be met to achieve California’s electrification goals including those set by the zero emission vehicle (ZEV) program and the target of 100% of ZEV sales by 2035 set by Governor Newsom’s Executive Order N-79-20. These challenges include: (i) the phasing out of incentives over time, (ii) the fact that some early ZEV buyers are discontinuing their ZEV ownership, (iii) low consumer awareness of ZEVs, (iv) a lack of affordable ZEV models, and (v) the inequitable distribution of charging infrastructure and incentives. Understanding these challenges is important to developing strategies and policies to meet state electrification goals.

Project Description: This project provides a literature review of research on zero emission vehicles (ZEVs) which includes fuel cell vehicles, battery electric vehicles, and plug-on hybrid electric vehicles, the latter are referred to as plug-in electric vehicles (PEV). In the review, the researchers focused on PEVs due to a lack of literature on fuel cell vehicles. They considered buyer and consumer perceptions of PEVs including perceived barriers to PEV adoption, consumer knowledge of PEVs, issues associated with incentives, and issues associated with infrastructure. The aim is to understand potential barriers to higher PEV sales and future research needs relating to PEV adoption. The PEV market shows many signs of becoming more robust. This includes PEV buyer demographics shifting toward the demographics of buyers of all types of new cars and improvements in PEV technology. Some challenges may remain, however. These include understanding the needs of households without home charging, engaging female car buyers in PEVs, engaging more of the general population in the PEV transition, substantially reducing PEV purchase prices, and incentive discontinuities potentially impacting adoption. Finally, disparities in rebate allocation, infrastructure deployment, and PEV sales indicate the transition is not yet equitable. This may require specific policy actions to address.

Status: In Progress

Budget: $49,920