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New national report is first to use latest battery and infrastructure costs, shows with the right policy the U.S. can electrify on-road transportation, which would save households $1,000 every year over the next 30 years, support over 2 million jobs, and aid recovery efforts.
BERKELEY, CA — All new cars and trucks sold in the United States can be powered by electricity by 2035, according to a study released today from the University of California, Berkeley. The study also finds that without robust policy reforms, most of the potential to reduce emissions, cut transportation costs, and increase jobs will not be realized. 2035 Report 2.0: Plummeting Costs and Dramatic Improvements In Batteries Can Accelerate Our Clean Transportation Future is the first study to show how improvements in battery technology, cost, manufacturing scale, and industry ambition will accelerate electrification of cars and trucks. The study also shows how the infrastructure needed to support this transition can be built quickly and cost-effectively.
The rapid electrification of new car and truck sales would save consumers $2.7 trillion by 2050, which translates to about $1,000 for every household per year over the next 30 years, and would support a net increase of over 2 million jobs in 2035. Combined with a 90 percent clean energy grid, electrifying all new car and truck sales would reduce air pollution, prevent 150,000 premature deaths and avoid $1.3 trillion in environmental and health costs through 2050.
“The case for electric vehicles is stronger than ever before and one of the most exciting findings of this study is the potential for large savings for all households. With the right policies and infrastructure, electric cars and trucks will be much cheaper to own and operate,” said Dr. Nikit Abhyankar, Senior Scientist at the University of California, Berkeley Center for Environmental Public Policy.
Pairing a clean grid with a clean transportation system would put the U.S. on a path to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the target scientists say is required to avoid the worst consequences of the climate crisis. In October 2018, the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that the world had only a dozen years to halve emissions in order to limit warming to 1.5°C. By 2030, the report finds the U.S. could electrify all new car sales and over 80 percent of new truck sales, power them with 90 percent clean electricity, and reduce U.S. economy-wide climate pollution emissions by 35 percent. Should aggressive building and industrial electrification be pursued on a similar timeline, U.S. economy-wide climate pollution could be reduced 45 percent by 2030.
“The uptake of electric cars and trucks can go much faster than previously forecast and is already exceeding market projections,” said Dr. Amol Phadke, Senior Scientist at University of California, Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy. “The performance and cost of the technology are ready to meet the needs of American drivers today, and the necessary charging infrastructure can be built cost-effectively without straining electricity grids.”
The 2035 time frame for achieving 100 percent new electric car and truck sales is also significant because it demonstrates the feasibility of commitments made by 22 countries, California, and Massachusetts to only sell electric vehicles by 2035. Automakers including General Motors and Nissan have similarly committed to an all-electric vehicle future and global private investment now exceeds $460 billion in the electric vehicle industry. Accelerating electric vehicle adoption is also a core component of the $2 trillion infrastructure plan recently released by the Biden administration and before Congress.
“There are significant, economy-wide benefits from switching to electric cars and trucks. Many of the health benefits will occur in communities of color and frontline communities that are disproportionately exposed to vehicle pollution,” said David Wooley, professor at the University of California, Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy and Executive Director of the Center for Environmental Public Policy. “But these benefits will simply not be realized without ambition and leadership on the part of policymakers and decision-makers. Every year America stalls, our vehicle and battery manufacturing industries fall behind in global competitiveness, consumers are saddled with higher costs, and we miss the ever-narrowing window to address the climate crisis and ensure a livable planet.”
The 2035 Report 2.0 models the total cost of ownership for gasoline and electric vehicles, finding that electric trucks are already cheaper to own than diesel versions on a total cost-per-mile basis, and electric cars will be cheaper than gasoline equivalents within the next five years. The study models public charging infrastructure, estimating the number and cost of the public charging ports needed to accommodate tens of millions of electric cars and trucks, the power supplies needed to meet the increased power demand from this shift, and the capital investment needed to achieve an accelerated transition.
A companion policy report, Accelerating Clean, Electrified Transportation by 2035: Policy Priorities, released by nonpartisan policy firm Energy Innovation lays out the federal, state, and local policy pathways needed to electrify all new car and truck sales by 2035. These include strengthened federal fuel efficiency standards, zero emission vehicle standards, financial incentives and labor standards to encourage domestic manufacturing and sales of electric cars and trucks.
“With political leadership, policy ambition, and a focus on an equitable transition for all, the U.S. can chart the course for a clean transportation future,” said Sara Baldwin, Director of Electrification Policy at Energy Innovation.
GridLab provided research and technical support for the 2035 Report 2.0.
About UC Berkeley’s Center for Environmental Public Policy
The Center for Environmental Public Policy, housed at UC Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy, takes an integrated approach to solving environmental problems and supports the creation and implementation of public policies that carefully define problems and match them with the best solutions.
GridLab is an innovative non-profit that provides technical grid expertise to enhance policy decision-making and to ensure a rapid transition to a reliable, cost effective, and low carbon future.
About Energy Innovation
Energy Innovation is a nonpartisan energy and environmental policy firm, delivering high-quality research and original analysis to policymakers to help them make informed choices on energy policy. Energy Innovation’s mission is accelerating clean energy by supporting the policies that most effectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions, working closely with policymakers, other experts, NGOs, the media, and the private sector.