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Electric cars may become new norm

Energy — particularly renewable energy — plays a large factor in many aspects of today’s society and has increased public interest in energy-conserving products such as electric vehicles (EVs). However, despite the increase in EV usage, recent findings by Carnegie Mellon researchers suggest that the large-scale success of EVs is limited by a lack of residential parking.

Elizabeth J. Traut, a mechanical engineering doctoral student; Tsu-Wei Charlie Cherng, who recently received his master’s degree in mechanical engineering; Chris Hendrickson, a civil and environmental engineering professor; and Jeremy J. Michalek, a professor of mechanical engineering and public policy, examined the availability of parking and charging for EVs in the United States.

The term EV encompasses plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), which run on gasoline and electricity, and battery electric vehicles (BEVs), which run solely on electricity. Currently, EV sales make up less than 0.6 percent of total car sales.

“There are a number of reasons why there’s interest in EVs,” Hendrickson said. “First, there are the energy security issues. Most motor vehicles run off of petroleum, and there are issues with supply security and imports. Second, if we move toward renewable power and the power grid system, then we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

Hendrickson explained that their research stemmed from the idea that most people would only buy EVs if they could charge their EV at home. The goal of the research was to look at the availability of charging at home for EVs from a vehicle perspective instead of a housing perspective. Previous research on charging availability was based on whether a household had a potential spot where an EV could be charged. This research determined that approximately 50 percent of households had a designated parking spot.
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