IEA: electric vehicles one of the best options for decarbonising the transport sector

Representatives from major auto makers and IEA member countries met in Stuttgart on 19 October for informal discussions on ways to increase the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) around the world.

Organised by the Clean Energy Ministerial’s Electric Vehicle Initiative (EVI), which is chaired by the IEA, the public-private roundtable followed an earlier discussion on electric vehicles between government and industry stakeholders at the 3rd Clean Energy Ministerial last April in London.

The IEA considers electric vehicles one of the best options for decarbonising the transport sector, especially in urban areas. The IEA publication Energy Technology Perspectives 2012 projects that half of all passenger cars by 2050 will need to be EVs (both plug-in hybrid EVs and battery EVs). To reach these targets, 20 million EVs will need to be on the road by 2020, but this cannot be met without higher rates of EV sales. This means that sales of EVs must double every year by the end of this decade.

Accelerating the deployment of EVs worldwide requires increased co-operation between member governments and automotive manufacturers because one of the key benefits of EVs is not merely replacing one vehicle with another, but enabling a smart grid and enhancing the potential for storage of renewable energy. This potential can be harnessed only if government and the private sector act in concert on issues like standards, infrastructure and incentives. The Stuttgart roundtable provided a unique and open forum for both parties to share ideas and explore the most effective models and policies required to drive adoption among high-potential customer segments.

Held under Chatham House Rules, the roundtable focused on how public-private partnerships can best work together to ensure favourable long-term market conditions, encourage consumers and stimulate existing EV adoption efforts. Hosted by the Government of Baden-Württemberg, the roundtable included 10 representatives from the EVI’s 15 member governments, as well as 6 original equipment manufacturer (OEM) representatives from major auto makers.

“By bringing together top government advisers and key automotive OEMs, we were able to use this unique forum to take an informed pulse of the path towards EV deployment market development and key steps for keeping momentum,” said IEA Energy Analyst Tali Trigg. “It is important that short-term sales outlooks do not undermine necessary interim progress to achieve long-term objectives.”

Discussion topics included how governments and industry can work together to reduce battery costs and accelerate innovation; how demand can be accurately gauged to match supply; which non-financial incentives are most effective in precipitating demand for electric vehicles in an age of austerity; and, what specific measures encourage the procurement of electric vehicles by government and corporations.