The Congress Needs To Redirect the Federal Electric Vehicle Program

EMD-79-6: Published: Apr 9, 1979. Publicly Released: Apr 9, 1979.

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The government is exploring the commercial potential of electric vehicles as one effort to reduce national oil consumption. Currently, transportation accounts for about half the oil consumed. Congress authorized $160 million for the program of research and development, vehicle demonstrations, and production incentives. Estimates of oil savings from electic vehicles range widely and depend on the number of vehicles ultimately in use. At the estimated level of commercialization, the Department of Transportation (DOT) believes 20,000 barrels of oil will be saved each day.

Before electric vehicles can be widely commercialized, the following advances will be necessary: (1) improve electric vehicle technology; (2) strengthen the electric vehicle; (3) establish an electric vehicle market; and (4) create an infrastructure necessary for the growth and continuance of electric vehicle use. The greatest barriers to successful electric vehicle commercialization are that they cost more and are less efficient than conventional vehicles. A number of problems with the electric vehicle program were found and it was concluded that the private sector demonstration effort is premature, research and development needs to be strengthened, and the small business program needs reexamination.

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