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Projected Impacts of Electrification of the Transportation Sector
Published: May 17, 2010
Posted: May 28, 2010

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) offer a low-carbon alternative to gasoline and diesel powered vehicles. DOE-funded MIT scientists expanded their Emissions Prediction and Policy Analysis (EPPA) model to include a detailed representation of PHEVs that also run on conventional fuels. This new modeling capability was used to investigate the effect of relative vehicle cost and all-electric range on the timing of PHEV market entry as well as competition from possible advanced cellulosic biofuels and will be reported soon in Transportation Research. Under the scenario in which annual U.S. CO2 emissions are reduced significantly over the next century, vehicle cost, in particular battery costs, could be a significant barrier to PHEV entry. With no climate policy and with a 30% increase in vehicle price compared to conventional automobiles, PHEVs are only marginally competitive by mid-century even without competition from biofuels. However, under a 450 ppm CO2 policy scenario, PHEVs are projected to grow to represent about half of the U.S. fleet by 2050. With competition from biofuels and at the 30% price premium for PHEV, penetration and net electrification of the transportation sector is greatly reduced. If the cost premium is as low as 15% for PHEVs, they will penetrate to a significant fleet share even without stringent emissions constraints and in the face of competition from biofuels.

Reference: Karplus, V., S. Paltsev, and J. Reilly. 2010. "Prospects for Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles in the United States and Japan: A General Equilibrium Analysis," Transportation Research, Part A: Policy and Practice 44(8), 620–641. DOI: (Reference link)

Contact: Bob Vallario, SC 23.1, (301) 903-5758
Topic Areas:

  • Research Area: Multisector Dynamics (formerly Integrated Assessment)
  • Research Area: Sustainable Biofuels and Bioproducts

Division: SC-33.1 Earth and Environmental Sciences Division, BER


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