Electric Vehicles:

Likely Consequences of U.S. and Other Nations' Programs and Policies

PEMD-95-7: Published: Dec 30, 1994. Publicly Released: Dec 30, 1994.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed international electric vehicle (EV) development and commercialization programs, focusing on the: (1) current barriers to widespread EV implementation; (2) nature and extent of other nations' EV policies and programs; and (3) likely effects of introducing EV on the economy and the environment.

GAO found that: (1) the viability of using electric vehicles for widespread transportation cannot be currently predicted; (2) the barriers to EV implementation include the limitations of current battery technology, gaps in EV infrastructure, uncertain EV safety and market potential, and high purchase prices; (3) extensive efforts to eliminate these barriers will require substantial money, time, and attention; (4) there is a gap between state policies mandating EV markets and federal policies supporting battery technology initiatives; (5) major EV infrastructure components for battery recharging, service, and recycling are not in place; (6) electric vehicles also present some unique safety hazards due the chemical compounds and operating temperatures of some batteries which may also affect vehicle maneuverability and crashworthiness; (7) U.S. efforts to pilot, demonstrate, and develop electric vehicles have been limited compared to the emphasis placed on these processes in other countries because electric vehicles receive disproportionately less funding than other alternative-fueled vehicles; (8) the high initial costs of electric vehicles outweigh any benefits derived from their reduced maintenance and fueling costs; and (9) although electric vehicles use 20 to 35 percent more energy than gasoline vehicles, electric vehicles would reduce U.S. energy consumption by 30 to 35 percent by 2010 and eliminate the toxic emissions associated with gasoline vehicles.

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