Research and Development
Federal investment in research and development (R&D) supports economic growth, drives down costs for key technologies that can be used domestically and exported abroad, and promotes U.S. leadership on clean energy and climate. Investment in R&D for vehicle electrification technologies is driven primarily by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). Further R&D for electric vehicles comes from DOE’s National Labs and Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E).
Federal policymakers should increase investment and enact programmatic reforms to ensure DOE focuses on advancing R&D for:
- Lithium-ion battery performance, reliability, cost-effectiveness, and lifetime improvement;
- Long-range vehicle batteries, including solid state and lithium sulfur;
- Battery recycling and repurposing;
- Charging infrastructure, including DC fast chargers, vehicle-to-grid connectivity, and hydrogen vehicle charging.
Validation and Early Deployment
Before we can deploy promising clean energy technologies at scale, we must demonstrate and validate their cost and performance in real-world conditions. Since demonstration projects reduce the economic and institutional risks of new technologies, DOE should develop a robust portfolio of these projects for transportation electrification, especially for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles and advanced charging infrastructure.
Tax credits, loan guarantees, and rebates can accelerate the deployment of cleaner vehicles, fuels, and other transportation technologies. Fiscal incentives for manufacturers encourage innovation while incentives for consumers help drive the rapid adoption of those innovations in the market.
Federal grants and loan guarantees can also increase investment in, and the deployment of, the charging infrastructure required for the large-scale electrification of vehicles and other transportation equipment.
Federal procurement policies targeting the next generation of EVs and EV equipment can reduce costs and drive private sector demand. Procurement policies that focus on categories with little electric-technology penetration—including heavy-duty vehicles and equipment and marine vessels—can also spur market adoption and encourage long-term deep decarbonization. The infrastructure required to support federal EV procurement can also increase public access to EV charging and support equitable access to vehicle charging in historically disadvantaged communities.
Driving Market Penetration
Despite decreasing green premiums in electric vehicles and equipment, factors such as cost, vehicle range, customer education, and the phase-out of federal tax credits continue to slow the pace of EV market penetration. Lack of equitable public charging infrastructure has also prevented EV adoption, specifically in rural and historically marginalized communities. Federal funding focused on increasing consumer awareness and providing equitable access to charging infrastructure can maximize the impact of federally supported investments and help mitigate these market barriers to EV adoption.
Rapid, Large Scale Deployment
Carbon pricing, whether via a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade system, aims to reflect the true economic and environmental costs of fossil-based fuels and lower the overall relative cost of electric vehicles and equipment. In the transportation sector, carbon pricing can augment reductions achieved through other deployment policies, such as a clean fuel standard or Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) mandate.
Clean Fuel Standard
As the power sector becomes cleaner, electricity has the potential to be a zero-emission fuel that can displace gasoline and diesel. Electrofuels (synthetic liquid or gaseous fuels made using electricity) also show great promise in medium- and heavy-duty applications by providing alternatives to fossil fuels for vehicles and other equipment that have been difficult to decarbonize.
A technology-neutral clean fuel standard that incentivizes fuel-use based on its carbon intensity can propel the large-scale deployment of electricity and electrofuels as well as the infrastructure required to support electric vehicle and equipment fleets.
Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) mandates can achieve long-term emission reductions by requiring manufacturers to offer specific numbers of the cleanest vehicles and equipment available. These clean technologies include full battery-electric, hydrogen fuel cell, and plug-in hybrid-electric equipment. ZEV mandates can reach beyond cars to include trucks and buses, off-road equipment, and even marine and rail applications. They help ensure the supply of clean technology is ready and available to meet consumer demand.
Investment in Infrastructure
Robust EV charging infrastructure is critical to widescale and equitable adoption of electric vehicles. As such, the federal government should ensure investments in EV charging infrastructure are appropriately prioritized in any major federal infrastructure investment package. Several federal funding mechanisms exist to support this critical clean infrastructure, including increasing investment in existing competitive and formula clean energy grant programs. To reduce social inequities, infrastructure investments should be prioritized in low-income and historically disadvantaged communities to provide direct air quality benefits in areas that have been disproportionately burdened by emissions to date.