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Our First Electric Cars...May Be Trucks

The path to bringing hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and electric vehicles into daily use could have some unexpected twists and turns

4 min read

”The hype is in hyperdrive.”

It was the best quote of a two-day conference held last month in Troy, Mich., called ”Developing the Market and Infrastructure for Electric and Plug-In Hybrid Vehicles,” and it came toward the end, from Ed Kjaer of Southern California Edison. He noted the ever-expanding promises of not just more hybrid vehicles but also plug-in hybrids, fully electric vehicles, and then the truly futuristic stuff: using vehicles with large-capacity batteries as adjuncts to the power grid for ancillary services, like load balancing (known as vehicle-to-grid, or V2G for short), and the extension of that concept to ”cash-back hybrids” that would (in theory) make money for their owners in that capacity.

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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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