BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - One of the keys to decarbonization is transitioning away from fossil fuel vehicles toward electric vehicles (EV), but barriers to rapid adoption, particularly for low-income and disadvantaged populations, are hindering this critical step. However, a new report from researchers at the Paul H. O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs, published by the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, lays out strategies that can help lower these barriers and accelerate the adoption of the cleaner technology.
“Clean and Just: Electric Vehicle Innovation to Accelerate More Equitable Early Adoption,” by O’Neill Ph.D. candidate Madeline Yozwiak, O’Neill Professor Sanya Carley, and Lynton K. Caldwell Professor David Konisky, shows that three key barriers to EV adoption—range, price, and charge time—are more pronounced for individuals in low-income and disadvantaged communities. The report calls on businesses, nonprofits, and government programs to focus on pathways that advance innovation in technology, workforce training, and community engagement when it comes to EVs.
“The three barriers are ones faced by every potential EV consumer,” Carley said. “These are barriers that all involved parties need to resolve: consumers need to adjust their behaviors and expectations; auto companies need to improve these features; and the government can help by providing more public chargers and advancing innovation to a stage that prices come down.
“When it comes to disadvantaged communities, these barriers may be more pronounced and more challenging to overcome since the resources—e.g., financial resources, charging infrastructure, supporting infrastructure—are less available. Here, it is even more important that the government work to help communities overcome these barriers by accessing the resources that they need. The biggest challenge, I think, is convincing stakeholders, including the government, that equity is a priority.”
The project is part of a broader portfolio of work produced in the IU Energy Justice Lab. The team, led by co-directors Carley and Konisky, is working on several topics related to equity and justice in the energy transition toward lower carbon energy resources. The group released a report on the EV transition in the American heartland and the implications for autoworkers in those communities, and it will soon present a more extensive peer-reviewed article on this topic.
“We are also working on projects related to equity within electricity markets, focusing on energy insecure populations across the U.S.,” Carley said.
The adoption of electric vehicles has grown rapidly since modern EVs were first introduced in 2010. As of 2012, EVs represented four percent of total vehicle sales. The recent KPMG Global Automotive Executive Survey showed that automotive executives believe more than half of their sales will be EVs by 2030.
The ITIF is planning a virtual panel focusing on electric vehicles July 26 at noon ET.
Ken Bikoff, Faculty Liaison and Public Relations Officer
Paul H. O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs | Indiana University
About the O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs
The O’Neill School is a world leader in public and environmental affairs and is the largest school of public administration and public policy in the United States. In the 2023 "Best Graduate Public Affairs Programs" by U.S. News & World Report, the O'Neill School is the top-ranked program in the country. Five of its specialty programs are ranked in the top-five listings, including top-ranked concentrations in environmental policy and management; nonprofit management; and public finance.