Electric vehicles and public charging infrastructure : impediments and opportunities for success in the United States
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Today’s debate regarding the United States (U.S.) transportation sector has never been more important. As similar discussions embroil electricity generation, one can see the powerful forces of the status-quo pitted against growing momentum behind alternatives. The electric vehicle (EV) finds itself somewhere in the middle of the debate, as a possible alternative to the conventional vehicle (CV). As demonstrated in this report, electric vehicles are neither new nor technologically infeasible. Current circumstances have initiated what appears to be a revival of the EV – this includes years of high oil prices, geopolitical instability, and growing awareness of environmental concerns resulting from CV usage. Nevertheless, impediments remain. One of the most important is the prospect of building public charging infrastructure to allow drivers to use an EV like their conventional vehicle, for both long and short distances. Public charging infrastructure, however, cannot be built without some critical mass of EV’s on the road to use them – otherwise they are not economically feasible. This report analyzes various facets of both EV’s and public charging infrastructure to give the reader a clear understanding of the complex criteria that must be understood to assess EV’s in the United States. Texas is given special consideration as a case study in this report, particularly the Austin area where public charging infrastructure for EV’s is currently being implemented. Through a detailed analysis of electric vehicles and charging infrastructure, as well as the United States transportation system, this report seeks to reach conclusions over the role EV’s and public charging infrastructure should play in the future U.S. transportation system.