Electric Vehicles Quick Look: Policy and Regulations
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The timeline of the electric vehicle (EV) stretches back further than you might expect. The first commercially viable electric car was created in 1884 by Thomas Parker, known as “the Edison of Europe.” Parker was ahead of his time, seeking to find a vehicle that could be powered by something cleaner than coal, oil, or gasoline. Unfortunately, Parker’s invention attracted little attention.
Over the years following, automotive manufacturers have experimented with EVs without anything taking a toehold. But when California passed the Zero Emission Vehicle Mandate in the 1990s, manufacturers saw the writing on the wall. Later, Tesla’s launch of its electric Roadster in 2006 touched things off. It was followed fairly quickly with offerings from Mitsubishi, Nissan, and Chevrolet.
Since then, increasing concern about the impact carbon emissions have on the environment has driven EVs mainstream. With every automotive manufacturer now producing EVs, and emissions regulation tightening around the world, it’s clear that the future is electric.
To look closer into the EV market, illustrate its progress, and spotlight the challenges ahead, GLG is holding an Insights Conference March 15-16, 2022. The conference will feature 11 industry experts providing their unique insight and perspectives. Loren Smith, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation, will lead the Electric Vehicle Regulatory Outlook session. Ahead of his session, we asked Loren a few questions to get a preview of his talk.
During this transition period from ICE to battery EV, what are the key policy issues that are currently relevant?
A number of questions will become critical as this transition takes place over the next 5-10 years. A sample: Will public and private actors be able to continue to expand EV charging infrastructure — particularly fast-charging infrastructure? Will mining of rare earth elements important to batteries continue to provide a sufficient amount of raw materials? How will geopolitics (particularly re: China and its dominance of rare earth production) affect supply? Will power grids be able to expand and improve resiliency to accommodate the new power draw of millions of new EVs? How will battery recycling develop at scale?
How is the government approaching the idea of charging stations?
The U.S. government, for one, is putting billions of dollars toward new charging stations, but this will likely be only a fraction of what’s needed, particularly for fast charging. That will ultimately fall mostly on the private sector, we believe.
Do you believe that there is enough stability on the grid right now to accommodate this shift? How can policy help accommodate this shift?
No. Decarbonization is already a major workstream in the power production area, and it will need to be paired with two critical additional workstreams: more power and more resiliency. Policymakers will need to be sensitive to this need with funding, regulatory reform, and permitting reform.
On the battery procurement perspective, how might policy affect the willingness to get raw materials stateside vs. abroad?
New mining in the U.S. is likely, but will likely only be incremental, and concentrated in a few areas such as in Texas. More important will be new sourcing from other countries such as Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America.
About Loren Smith
Loren Smith is the President of Skyline Policy Risk Group. From 2017 through 2021, he worked at the U.S. Department of Transportation, rising to be Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy. Mr. Smith’s work there included proposing the first update to guidance on infrastructure permitting (NEPA) since 1985, organizing a new DOT Order on Environmental Justice, leading the USDOT Summit on accessibility/disability, chairing the management team for the USDOT initiative on rural infrastructure, organizing $2.1 billion for Opportunity Zones from multiple programs, and coordinating the Lessons Learned assessments for the USDOT response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Join us for our 2022 GLG Insights Conference, Electric Vehicle Market and Infrastructure, to discuss charging infrastructure, materials, and automotive production as we continue to electrify the world. All our sessions are online conversations with experts in a small group setting that you can attend with a phone, computer, or laptop.