Research

Peer-reviewed article in Energy Research & Social Science

Which plug-in electric vehicle policies are best? A multi-criteria evaluation framework applied to Canada

January, 2020

Highlights

  • New or strengthened policies are required to achieve plug-in electric vehicle targets
  • We evaluate financial and non-financial incentives, charger rollout and regulation
  • Framework considers sales effectiveness, cost, support, simplicity and transformation
  • Trade-offs exist among zero-emissions vehicle policy approaches
  • Three approaches can achieve target: incentives, ZEV mandate, or emissions standard

Abstract: Policy is an important driver for the deployment of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs). Most PEV policy research focuses on effectiveness in the short-term, even though policymakers i) typically consider a wider range of evaluation criteria and ii) are setting PEV sales goals in the longer-term (e.g., 2030 or 2040). This study develops a more comprehensive evaluation framework, considering five criteria: (i) effectiveness at increasing PEV adoption in the long-term (2040), (ii) government spending, (iii) public support, (iv) policy simplicity and (v) “transformational signal”, the latter being a measure of a policy’s ability to stimulate confidence and investment in a PEV transition. We apply this framework to Canada by assessing eight policy types implemented across the country, as well as stronger versions of each policy. We also illustrate trade-offs by constructing three policy packages with similar effectiveness (i.e., PEVs making up 40% of light-duty vehicle sales by 2040). These packages include strong financial incentives ($6,000 CAD per PEV for 20 years), a Zero-Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) sales mandate (requiring 40% PEV sales by 2040), or strengthened light-duty vehicle emissions standards (decreasing to 71 g CO2e per km by 2040). These packages differ in terms of government expenditure, policy simplicity, public support and transformative signal. Our framework provides an accessible tool for policymakers to assess such tradeoffs with PEV-supportive policies and to identify approaches that best suit their jurisdiction.

This figure from the study shows how plug-in electric vehicle market share is expected to vary with the policy packages considered.

Full Citation: Melton, N., J. Axsen, & B. Moawad. 2020. Which plug-in electric vehicle policies are best? A multi-criteria evaluation framework applied to Canada. Energy Research & Social Science 64, 1-15.

To learn more about this research, please contact Noel Melton.

Other Research

Melton, N., J. Axsen, & B. Moawad. 2020. Which plug-in electric vehicle policies are best? A multi-criteria evaluation framework applied to Canada. Energy Research & Social Science 64, 1-15. Learn More ➥

Melton, N., J. Axsen & S. Goldberg. 2017. Evaluating plug-in electric vehicle policies in the context of long-term greenhouse gas reduction goals: Comparing 10 Canadian provinces using the PEV policy report card. Energy Policy, 107, 381-393.

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Wolinetz & Axsen. 2017. How policy can build the plug-in electric vehicle market: Insights from the REspondent-based Preference And Constraints (REPAC) model. Technological Forecasting and Social Change 117: 238-250. Learn More ➥

Melton, N., J. Axsen & D. Sperling. 2016. Moving beyond alternative fuel hype to decarbonize transportationNature Energy, 1, 16013. Learn More ➥

Bataille, C., N. Melton & M. Jaccard. 2015. Policy uncertainty and diffusion of carbon capture and storage in an optimal region. Climate Policy, 15(5): 565-582.

Jaccard, M., N. Melton & J. Nyboer. 2011. Institutions and Processes for Scaling Up Renewables: Run-of-River Hydropower in British Columbia. Energy Policy, 39(7): 4042-4050.

Peters, J., C. Bataille, N. Rivers, & M. Jaccard. 2010. Taxing Emissions, Not Income: How to Moderate the Regional Impact of Federal Environment Policy. C.D. Howe Institute, 314: Toronto, ON.