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The Diffusion of EVs Featured Pattern: P1312 February 2019

Author: Peter Batty (Send us feedback.)

Technological advances, infrastructure rollouts, societal shifts, and policy changes are helping the gradual diffusion of electric vehicles (EVs).

Abstracts in this Pattern:

Racing competitions are introducing automotive innovations. The ABB FIA Formula E Championship (—an auto-racing competition by ABB Asea Brown Boveri (Zurich, Switzerland) and the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (Paris, France) that uses only EVs—is driving technological advances that can find use in consumer EVs. For example, Jaguar Land Rover's (Tata Group; Mumbai, India) new Jaguar I-PACE consumer electric sport-utility vehicle uses some technology from Jaguar's I-TYPE 2 Formula E race car. Other advances relate to supporting services. Google (Alphabet; Mountain View, California) is updating its Google Maps mapping service to include the locations of certain providers' EV-charging stations in the United States and a few other countries. Google Maps will also provide related information, including charging prices and the types of connectors available at each charging station.

Cities around the world are attempting to dissuade or outright prohibit the use of vehicles that emit pollutants. Uber Technologies (San Francisco, California) wants its fleet of vehicles in London, England, to be fully electric by 2025, and the company is charging passengers in London an extra £0.15 ($0.19) per mile to create a fund that will aid its drivers in switching to EVs. EV diffusion expands beyond cars. Ford Motor Company (Dearborn, Michigan) recently purchased electric-scooter start-up Spin, General Motors Company (Detroit, Michigan) has unveiled initial plans for an electric-bike brand, and Daimler (Stuttgart, Germany) is planning to test an electric-scooter-rental service in Europe.

As EVs increase in number, new regulations will become necessary to pave the way for their diffusion across regions and market segments. For instance, because EVs produce very little noise in comparison with internal-combustion-engine vehicles, they may endanger pedestrians and other road users who might not detect them in their vicinity. The European Union introduced a regulation that requires new EVs to have an Acoustic Vehicle Alerting System that makes them sound like internal-combustion-engine vehicles while they are moving 20 kilometers per hour (about 12 miles per hour) or slower. The regulation will also apply to hybrid and fuel-cell vehicles beginning in 2020.