California to Rule On Fate of EVs

Regulators rethink electric-drive options

6 min read

Phoenix Motorcars' battery-powered pickup truck seems, at first glance, like any other electric vehicle. But it has a trick up its sleeve: the truck's hefty 35-kilowatt-hour battery can recharge in a record 10 minutes flat--a feat that would ruin or even ignite most EV batteries.

Phoenix, a start-up in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., bets that rapid charging will eventually make battery EVs more popular with consumers by eliminating the threat of being stranded with a dead battery. But Phoenix is also counting on a more immediate payoff: the company may be eligible to cash in on California's ambitious and controversial zero-emissions vehicle mandate. The ZEV directive requires car manufacturers to market ultraclean and emissions-free vehicles or buy credits earned by others making such vehicles--credits that could translate into tens of thousands of dollars in extra income per vehicle for Phoenix.

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We Need More Than Just Electric Vehicles

To decarbonize road transport we need to complement EVs with bikes, rail, city planning, and alternative energy

11 min read
A worker works on the frame of a car on an assembly line.

China has more EVs than any other country—but it also gets most of its electricity from coal.

VCG/Getty Images

EVs have finally come of age. The total cost of purchasing and driving one—the cost of ownership—has fallen nearly to parity with a typical gasoline-fueled car. Scientists and engineers have extended the range of EVs by cramming ever more energy into their batteries, and vehicle-charging networks have expanded in many countries. In the United States, for example, there are more than 49,000 public charging stations, and it is now possible to drive an EV from New York to California using public charging networks.

With all this, consumers and policymakers alike are hopeful that society will soon greatly reduce its carbon emissions by replacing today’s cars with electric vehicles. Indeed, adopting electric vehicles will go a long way in helping to improve environmental outcomes. But EVs come with important weaknesses, and so people shouldn’t count on them alone to do the job, even for the transportation sector.

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