Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

All sustainable transportation subsidies shouldn't be created equal, experts say

Date:
January 10, 2010
Source:
University of Michigan
Summary:
When it comes to pumping up the appeal of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, some regions are more ripe for the cars than others, and some consumers' buttons need more pushing than others -- an important policy distinction when shaping subsidies, two energy policy experts say.

When it comes to pumping up the appeal of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), some regions are more ripe for the cars than others, and some consumers' buttons need more pushing than others -- an important policy distinction when shaping subsidies, two energy policy experts say.

In a recent article in Energy Policy, a leading academic journal in the energy field, Steven Skerlos in mechanical engineering at the University of Michigan and James Winebrake, chair of the Department of Science, Technology and Society/Public Policy at Rochester Institute of Technology, and make the case for a better way to target government subsidies aimed at promoting sustainable transportation technologies.

It turns out that giving consumers who live and drive in regions where the social benefits of electric-boosted cars are strongest, and recognizing the circumstances of consumers -- such as their income, life stage and family size -- gives PHEVs a better shot at both sales and environmental and energy security effectiveness.

"The idea of a one-size-fits-all technology has failed us many times before in automotive policy," said Skerlos, director of the U-M Environmental and Sustainable Technologies Laboratory. "PHEVs that make sense in urban areas where the grid is fairly clean may make much less sense compared to other technology approaches for areas of long distance rural driving. We want to get beyond the notion of a universal 'silver bullet' and understand where PHEVs are most likely to going to work."

Currently, such subsidies exist for various types of alternative fuel vehicles, although the paper uses the example of new federal subsidies for PHEVs to make its case.

"Subsidies for alternative fuel vehicles, such as PHEVs, are needed in order to move our transportation sector away from petroleum and towards more sustainable technologies and fuels," said Winebrake, who also co-directs the RIT Laboratory for Environmental Computing and Decision Making. "However, blanket subsidies such as those currently in place, are clearly sub-optimal. The administration needs to target its subsidies in areas that maximize social benefit."

Skerlos and Winebrake explain that PHEVs can make the biggest environmental and energy bang for the buck in specific locations. Areas that use low-carbon fuels for electricity production, such as renewable fuels, nuclear power, or natural gas, make more sense than areas that generate electricity from coal.

Second are areas where people drive more, so that the PHEVs displace a greater amount of petroleum.

Third are areas where air quality is sub-standard. Other attributes, such as population density and driving habits are also important.

Buyer demographics, such as income levels, count too. For instance, high-income consumers are more likely to buy a cutting-edge green car with less resistance to cost, sending a flag that subsidies could be more effective to enable lower income consumers buy PHEVs.

The use of tax dollars to subsidize purchases of PHEVs by people who would have bought them anyway should be questioned," Skerlos said.

Winebrake and Skerlos are actively working on the next phase of this research, which is to quantify many of these attributes in order to provide insights into the particular geographic regions and demographic groups that would be optimal targets for PHEV subsidies.

Core work for the study is funded by the National Science Foundation, along with funding by the U-M Michigan Memorial Phoenix Energy Institute, of which Skerlos is a fellow.

The Energy Institute at the University of Michigan develops, coordinates and promotes multidisciplinary energy research and education. The Lab for Environmental Computing and Decision Making at RIT conducts integrated, interdisciplinary research that applies novel computing technologies to energy and environmental problems.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Michigan. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Michigan. "All sustainable transportation subsidies shouldn't be created equal, experts say." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 January 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100107114730.htm>.
University of Michigan. (2010, January 10). All sustainable transportation subsidies shouldn't be created equal, experts say. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100107114730.htm
University of Michigan. "All sustainable transportation subsidies shouldn't be created equal, experts say." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100107114730.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

Share This




More Science & Society News

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Get on Your Bike! London Cycling Popularity Soars Despite Danger

Get on Your Bike! London Cycling Popularity Soars Despite Danger

AFP (Sep. 1, 2014) Wedged between buses, lorries and cars, cycling in London isn't for the faint hearted. Nevertheless the number of people choosing to bike in the British capital has doubled over the past 15 years. Duration: 02:27 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thailand Totters Towards Waste Crisis

Thailand Totters Towards Waste Crisis

AFP (Sep. 1, 2014) Fears are mounting in Bangkok that poor planning and lax law enforcement are tipping Thailand towards a waste crisis. Duration: 01:21 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
California Passes 'yes-Means-Yes' Campus Sexual Assault Bill

California Passes 'yes-Means-Yes' Campus Sexual Assault Bill

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 30, 2014) California lawmakers pass a bill requiring universities to adopt "affirmative consent" language in their definitions of consensual sex, part of a nationwide drive to curb sexual assault on campuses. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

AFP (Aug. 29, 2014) Twenty college-age students are getting 100,000 dollars from a Silicon Valley leader and a chance to live in San Francisco in order to work on the start-up project of their dreams, but they have to quit school first. Duration: 02:20 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins