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The electric vehicle is ready. Are you?

Jonn Axsen studied consumer adoption of electric cars for the last ten years. Technology isn’t the problem – consumers aren’t familiar with them yet and we need carbon policies to speed their adoption

Two of the largest contributions to deep greenhouse gas emissions are likely to be electric mobility and decarbonising electricity sources. Jonn Axsen, Assistant Professor of Resource and Environmental Management at SFU, speaking at the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions, told the audience of his public lecture last night that the obstacle to electric mobility isn’t technology. It is people’s understanding of the technology and their motivations as consumers.

Decarbonizing electricity generation and adopting electric mobility will play a big role in making the deep cuts we need in greenhouse gas emissions.

Not a problem: batteries

Engineers from the US Department and Energy and MIT set high standards for whether batteries had sufficient storage (more miles) and power (acceleration/speed) for electric vehicles. Axsen looked at the two most common battery types, Nickel Metal Hydride and Lithium Ion and only the latter came close to meeting those standards.

The high bar set by the engineers contributed to the meme that batteries aren’t advanced enough yet for electric cars, but in fact they are more than capable for powering the kind of electric car people most want. Axsen interviewed people to find out what kind of battery would be sufficient for the types of cars they were most interested in. People were most interested in the plug in hybrids, like the Prius, which require smaller batteries well within the capacity of the Nickel Metal Hydride technology.
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