Not All Sustainable Transportation Subsidies Should Be Created Equal

Energy Policy article urges crafting incentives on communities where plug-in hybrids and electric cars create the strongest social benefit.

Published: 10-Jan-2010

When it comes to pumping up the appeal of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), some regions are more ripe for the cars than others, and some consumers' buttons need more pushing than others -- an important policy distinction when shaping subsidies, two energy policy experts say.

In a recent article in Energy Policy, a leading academic journal in the energy field, Steven Skerlos in mechanical engineering at the University of Michigan and James Winebrake, chair of the Department of Science, Technology and Society/Public Policy at Rochester Institute of Technology, and make the case for a better way to target government subsidies aimed at promoting sustainable transportation technologies.

It turns out that giving consumers who live and drive in regions where the social benefits of electric-boosted cars are strongest, and recognizing the circumstances of consumers -- such as their income, life stage and family size -- gives PHEVs a better shot at both sales and environmental and energy security effectiveness.

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