Clean Vehicles

Alternative Vehicles, Consumer Behavior, and Regulation of Cars and Trucks

Concerns about energy security and pollution are the drivers behind public policies designed to spur the development and commercialization of clean vehicles. Although the engineering aspects of clean vehicles are crucial, engineers have already pioneered advances such as lightweight materials, more efficient gasoline engines and transmissions, hybrid engines, advanced biofuels, plug-in electric vehicles, and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. The missing ingredients in clean-vehicle policies are contributions from the social and behavioral sciences, including economics and policy analysis, that will guide the development of clean-vehicle policies that are both effective and cost-effective.

The O’Neill Working Group on Clean Vehicles is sharpening its focus on the consumer’s perspective toward clean vehicles, especially the passenger cars and light trucks that account for the majority of the petroleum consumption and emissions from the transport sector. In previous work, we compared the public policies toward plug-in electric vehicles in the California, the U.S., China, the European Union, Germany, and France. The policies examined include the regulations of vehicle manufacturers as well as the public subsidies, tax credits, and incentives (monetary and nonmonetary) that spur or discourage use of clean vehicles. Since Indiana is one of the leading automotive manufacturing states in the nation, Indiana has a special interest in making sure that public policies toward clean vehicles are evidence-based, effective, and cost-effective. The Group has published several papers showing that substantial progress must be made with consumer awareness, knowledge, and incentives if commercialization of plug-in electric vehicles and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles is to be effective.

The O’Neill Working Group has recently completed an 18-month investigation of the cumulative macroeconomic impacts of three regulatory programs: the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Greenhouse Gas Performance Standards, and the California Air Resources Board’s Zero-Emission Vehicle Programs. The Group found that while the regulatory programs promise long-term economic gains in the US, the economic impacts will be predominantly negative in the near-term. The Group highlights a variety of refinements to regulatory and fiscal policies that can enhance both the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of current clean-vehicle policies. 

Another team of scholars, as funded by the National Science Foundation, is researching the technological diffusion of electric vehicles and the simultaneous diffusion of electric vehicle policies, and the interactions between technological and policy development.

A Macroeconomic Study of Federal and State Automotive Regulations with Recommendations for Analysts, Regulators, and Legislators

Sanya Carley, Denvil Duncan, John D. Graham, Saba Siddiki, and Nikolaos Zirogiannis

Released March 9, 2017

Read the complete report

Read John D. Graham's testimony

Rethinking Auto Fuel Economy Policy: Technical and Policy Suggestions for the 2016-17 Midterm Reviews

Highlighted publications

Effects of providing total cost of ownership information on consumers' intent to purchase a hybrid or plug-in electric

Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice (2015)

Jerome Dumortier, Saba Siddiki, Sanya Carley, Joshua Cisney, Rachel M. Krause, Bradley W. Lane, John A. Rupp, John D. Graham

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Perception and Reality: Public Knowledge of Plug-in Electric Vehicles in 21 US Cities

Energy Policy (2013)

Rachel M. Krause, Sanya R. Carley, Bradley W. Lane, John D. Graham

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Intent to purchase a plug-in electric vehicle: A survey of early impressions in large US cities

Transportation Research D: Transport and Environment (2013)

Sanya R. Carley, Rachel M. Krause, Bradley W. Lane, John D. Graham

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50 years at O'Neill