New research from Lund University shows that inadequate infrastructure was key in US automakers’ choice of gasoline-powered cars over electric vehicles in the early 20th century. If electric grids were popular only 15 or 20 years ago, the majority of producers would likely choose electric cars, according to the study published in nature energy.
An extensive political commitment to a global power grid was introduced in Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal in the 1930s, but it came decades later.
“It was a common perception that electric cars were technically less good and more expensive. We found that wasn’t entirely true. Electric cars were more expensive, but not in relation to their performance. Plus, the mid-range was surprisingly good because early cars It was relatively light and small,” says Joseph Talby, associate professor of economic history at Lund University.
In their study, Josef Talby and Hana Nielsen investigate why electric cars are outperforming the competition and petrol cars are taking charge. To help them, they had a database of more than 36,000 US passenger car models. Their results confirm that it is not always the best technology that is dominant.
“According to our estimates, electric cars were cheaper to drive in the 1920s thanks to cheap electricity. Switching to electric cars would have meant a reduction in CO2 emissions of the order of 20 million tons of CO2.”2 in 1920 alone,” says Hannah Nielsen, a postdoctoral fellow at Lund University.
Why were petrol cars chosen? The results show that most car manufacturers have chosen to produce gasoline-powered cars since the beginning of the twentieth century. Access to local electric infrastructure was the strongest factor in predicting whether a producer would choose electric propulsion or gasoline.
“The slow expansion of electricity infrastructure meant that many producers early on chose to invest in petrol cars rather than electric cars. Part of the problem was that the electricity market for households was not profitable for private electricity producers. Extensive political commitment to the network was achieved. Electricity was first introduced in Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal in the 1930s, but that was decades too late for the electric car.We can also see that the expansion of good road networks tended to benefit electric cars, which meant that these were more dependent on the extent and quality road networks,” says Hannah Nielsen.
“Our results confirm that car manufacturers chose the technology based on conditions at the beginning of the twentieth century. Although the electricity grid expanded in the coming decades, this did not cause a shift in payment. By the 2000s, it had become The industry is already closed. To a technological choice that was difficult to change,” says Joseph Talabi.
Other factors played a role as well. Historians have highlighted that the electric car was a luxury brand and ‘women’s car’, while the petrol car was seen as an ‘adventure car’, which appealed to male consumer groups. To what extent did this contribute In the choice of technology, we cannot say in this study, but it is plausible that electric vehicles were forced to take a luxury position because they were more restricted to urban environments,” says Joseph Talabi.
What would have happened if the power grid was in place earlier? “According to our models, the majority of car manufacturers were supposed to produce electric cars, especially in urban areas. However, gasoline cars had an advantage in getting around and there were still other drawbacks to electric cars, such as low speed. The most likely outcome is a dual-clutch system where An electric vehicle would have served as a reliable means of transportation in urban environments, while a gasoline-powered vehicle would have significant advantages as a touring vehicle,” says Joseph Talby.
The researchers believe their findings have clear implications for contemporary debates.
“With regard to the current climate crisis, the findings support the idea that large-scale investments in infrastructure are necessary to achieve sustainable transportation and energy systems. This applies to electric vehicles, but also other renewable energy technologies,” says Hana Nielsen.
Joseph Talby concludes, “Our results confirm that a lack of infrastructure or late procedures can create incentives that not only hinder alternative technologies, but enhance existing ones.”
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Joseph Talby et al., The Role of Energy Infrastructure in Shaping the Early Adoption of Electric and Gasoline Vehicles, nature energy (2021). DOI: 10.1038 / s41560-021-00898-3
Presented by Lund University
the quote: Electricity Grid Shortage The Fate of Early Electric Vehicles (2021, October 13) Retrieved October 13, 2021 from https://techxplore.com/news/2021-10-lack-power-grids-fate-early.html
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