Utah Foundations Driving Towards a Cleaner Future Report (November 2019)
Driving Toward a Cleaner Future: Alternative Fuel Vehicles in Utah examines the incentives and disincentives around electric cars, as well as the policy decisions around preparation for a wide proliferation of electric vehicles in the future. It also examines the incentives and requirements around public and private heavy-duty fleet vehicles.
Key Findings of this Report
- Electric vehicles – or battery electric cars and plug-in hybrids – accounted for less than 2% of the nation’s new vehicle market share in 2018. In Utah, electric’s market share was about 1.6%.
- Addressing the fears of consumers is a core challenge in alternative fuel vehicle adoption. Less than a quarter of Americans consider purchasing electric cars because of concerns about running out of power, the availability of charging stations and initial vehicle cost.
- Utah’s relatively small electric vehicle tax credit was not renewed in 2016, yet electric vehicle market share has continued to increase.
- The top electric-vehicle-adopting states – all in the West – offer significant incentives. However, the 10 states with the highest market share growth in 2018 offer no incentives (though they all had 2017 market share under one percent).
- There is evidence that the looming threat of expiring tax credits can encourage short-term market uptake of alternative fuel vehicles.
- Due to state and local investment, as well as the Volkswagen Settlement and private actors, Utah’s electric vehicle charging infrastructure is poised to quickly expand
- Large fleet vehicles account for one-third to one-half of Utah’s vehicle emissions, even though they account for only 3% of the vehicle miles traveled.
- Alternative-fuel, heavy-duty fleet vehicles are more expensive than diesel and have large infrastructure costs, but offer large fuel and maintenance savings.
- To encourage the market’s embrace of alternative fuel vehicles, state and local governments should continue to explore opportunities to encourage private actors to deploy alternative fuel infrastructure for customers, tenants, employees and visitors.
- Cities and counties have at least two potential roles to play: adopting building codes that are “future-proof” for the growth in alternative fuel vehicles, and retiring older public-service diesel fuel fleets.
- Utah may get a substantial air quality return on its tax credit investments by continuing to focus incentives on heavy-duty fleet vehicles and renewing them in 2020.
- To encourage the market’s embrace of alternative fuel vehicles, public and private sector stakeholders should mount public information campaigns to explain the growing availability of alternative fuel infrastructure and address other consumer fears.