The simulations described in Chapter 5 suggest that the types of AFVs that might be needed to achieve the desired levels of petroleum and GHG reduction are those that initially will carry a large price premium because of their technology content. Once advanced vehicle technologies have become widely diffused, the vehicles in which they are incorporated will become much closer in cost to the advanced “conventional” vehicles that then would be available. In fact, the committee’s midrange case shows that both BEVs and FCEVs could cost less than advanced ICEVs by 2050. (See Figure 2.8 in Chapter 2.) In addition, the superior energy efficiency of those alternative vehicles would return more than enough benefit to consumers, in terms of reduced fuel consumption, to offset any cost premium that did exist. The trick will be to persuasively convey this information to consumers.

Accomplishing this is likely to require increased understanding of consumers’ attitudes about issues of sustainability, climate change, and environment and of how to motivate consumers in these arenas. The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology has recently recommended that the Department of Energy incorporate societal research in its programs to gain an understanding of how energy programs succeed in the market (PCAST, 2010).

Broadening such research to include a focus on understanding consumer attitudes, expectations, and past behaviors relative to alternative automotive and fuel choices as well as to other technologies introduced to increase fuel efficiency and reduce emissions would seem essential to successful achievement of the petroleum use and GHG reduction goals set out for the 2030 and 2050 time periods in the committee’s statement of task.

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