This group brings together the best thinkers on energy and climate. Join us for smart, insightful posts and conversations about where the energy industry is and where it is going.


US ICE Vehicle Phaseout

Ed Reid's picture
Vice President, Marketing (Retired) / Executive Director (Retired) / President (Retired), Columbia Gas Distribution Companies / American Gas Cooling Center / Fire to Ice, Inc.

Industry Participation: Natural Gas Industry Research, Development and Demonstration Initiative Chair, Cooling Committee (1996-1999)   American Gas Association Marketing Section...

  • Member since 2003
  • 767 items added with 33,503 views
  • Feb 1, 2022

“We need to make green energy much cheaper.”, Bjorn Lomborg

Global policymakers appear to have adopted a uniform approach to the green energy transition – making fossil energy unavailable through supply restriction or legislative and regulatory prohibition, or more expensive through taxation. They either lack confidence in future green energy cost reductions or they lack the patience to wait for those cost reductions. Lomborg sees the need to make green energy cheaper in absolute terms, while policymakers pursue the approach of making it cheaper in relative terms by increasing the cost of conventional energy and its end uses.

The US government and some state governments are pursuing these approaches to phaseout internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles and transition to electric vehicles (EVs) or hydrogen fueled vehicles. California plans to ban sale of ICE vehicles in 2030, while the federal government plans to ban their sale in 2035. The federal government currently pays incentives of up to $7,500 to purchasers of electric vehicles and plans to increase the incentives to up to $12,500 for vehicles produced by union labor. The federal government also intends to incentivize installation of up to 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations, with a focus on disadvantaged and underserved neighborhoods. Incentives are also planned for electric school buses and transit buses.

These mandates and incentives are deemed necessary because current electric vehicles are expensive, largely because of the cost of their batteries. Also, current EVs are range limited by their batteries, reducing their utility for other than short trips. EV owners also experience “fuel anxiety” because of the limited EV charging infrastructure.

The EV transition is also currently being impeded by concerns about battery fires, which have resulted in major vehicle recalls. Concerns regarding battery fires are also causing some jurisdictions to consider prohibiting EV charging stations in public and private parking structures and underground parking facilities in residential complexes.

There are currently light duty and medium duty EVs available in the market, though they represent only approximately 7% of passenger car sales and a lesser share of light and medium duty truck sales. Heavy duty EV trucks are just being introduced to the market and EV semi-tractors are under development. The major concern with these heavy-duty vehicles is the effect the weight of the batteries has on the gross vehicle weight (GVW) of the truck and the limitation that imposes on cargo weight.

The conversion of railroad vehicles to EV is a major challenge. EV passenger rail in highly populated areas of the country has been in use for decades. However, passenger rail power demands are much lower than for freight service. Freight locomotives in current service use electric drive motors at the wheels, but the electricity is provided by diesel generators in the locomotives. Installing overhead electric lines of sufficient current carrying capacity on the 140,000 route miles of freight rail infrastructure and converting existing locomotives with catenaries and transformers would be an extremely expensive undertaking.

Conversion of off-road vehicles, such as farm and construction equipment, to EV operation present interesting charging and utility challenges.

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Feb 1, 2022

I still think it'll be the fleet vehicles that really drive the pivot point-- they have the purchasing power, the concentration of charging needs, and the regular patterns that can bolster the market

Jim Stack's picture
Jim Stack on Feb 2, 2022

Ed, A very timely article. Tesla solved the rail problem with their Hyper loop. Since it is in a closed tube that is a vacuum it only takes a small amount of electric power to run at 700 mph. Safer and much lower cost that an airplane and faster. 

   The Tesla Semi is being deployed by Pepsi co and will be on the streets soon. They have 6 and a Mega Charger at their HQ office. Others will follow. 

   The transition of cars is happening so fast Tesla and others can't keep up. So far it is the chip shortage that is holding vehicles and the available lithium batteries. The new Tesla 4680 cells will drop the battery cost in half as they get up to higher production numbers. Tesla has contracted 4 other companies to produce these advanced cells including Panasonic their biggest supplier so far. 


   ICE production has fallen and many cities and countries have plans to ban them. If we could just get the 100 years of Oil subsidies to end it would be even a faster transition. They the big automakers would get serious like VW has done. GM and FORD are being proclaimed the biggest Electric Vehicle companies but has produced very little so far. That will change very soon or they will be out of business. 

Peter Farley's picture
Peter Farley on Feb 9, 2022

1. I have no idea why Bjorn Lomberg says we need to make RE much cheaper, before taxes and allowing for the superior efficiency of EVs, the fuel cost per mile of an EV is between half and 1/3rd of an ICE vehicle.

2. 70% of the truck journeys in the US are less than 250 miles and they are already economical for an electric truck, if you could buy one

3. Electric trains will not require electrification of the freight lines. There will be battery electric locos, already being ordered for the heaviest freight trains in the world, there will be battery electric short haul and switching locos. Other solutions like electrifying freight yards and perhaps some uphill sections of long lines will mean that no more than 10% of track needs to be electrified. Even that may be mostly eliminated by adding battery tenders to trains just like they add and subtract extra locos now for trans-mountain sections. 

Autonomous train technology now operating on a few lines might change the whole paradigm in that self powered autonomous wagons with 1-3 trailers in tow may eliminate locos altogether    

Ed Reid's picture
Ed Reid on Feb 9, 2022

"The battery will hold 2,400 kilowatt-hours of energy, meaning it’s able to maintain full horsepower for roughly 30 minutes on a given charge. Then the operator can decide how to use that power."

Looks like long haul electric is some time in the future.

Ed Reid's picture
Ed Reid on Feb 9, 2022

EVs are expensive, largely because their batteries are expensive. RE is cheap because it is heavily subsidized and because the cost of the required backup generation is not included in its cost.

Ed Reid's picture
Thank Ed for the Post!
Energy Central contributors share their experience and insights for the benefit of other Members (like you). Please show them your appreciation by leaving a comment, 'liking' this post, or following this Member.
More posts from this member

Get Published - Build a Following

The Energy Central Power Industry Network is based on one core idea - power industry professionals helping each other and advancing the industry by sharing and learning from each other.

If you have an experience or insight to share or have learned something from a conference or seminar, your peers and colleagues on Energy Central want to hear about it. It's also easy to share a link to an article you've liked or an industry resource that you think would be helpful.

                 Learn more about posting on Energy Central »