The global pandemic has raised many questions about the future of mobility, but the resilience shown by the Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) market seems to indicate they are rapidly becoming a competitive alternative to conventional gas-burning vehicles. Despite ongoing debates over what a “green recovery” will look like across geographies, due to varying levels of resilience and resource, there is one thing governments seem to agree on: The future of mobility is low carbon, with ZEVs being a big part of it.
New York City incorporated Electric Vehicles (EVs) into fleets providing essential services to vulnerable citizens during the pandemic. The financial benefits of EVs have encouraged city leadership to continue efforts to improve the design, planning and deployment of EV charging infrastructure to expand the network. Clean transport is essential to achieve the city’s goal of carbon neutrality by 2050.
“We currently have over 2,100 EVs in our fleet of electric vehicles,” said Jen Roberton from the New York City Mayor’s Office of Sustainability. “We’re hoping to expand that to 4,000 by 2025. This is a goal that we’ve committed to. A really big selling point for us right now is the lower overall total cost of ownership of an EV compared to an [internal combustion engine] vehicle… this is a huge benefit as we face a fiscal crisis. These vehicles are both cheaper and more sustainable.”
Government funds alone will not be enough to achieve a green recovery. Investment from the private sector will also be essential.
“When we talk to businesses who look at California, they make the investments in California because of that strong policy environment,” explained Tyson Eckerle from the California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development. “And, you know, the great thing is that it can be replicated. We hope that all states and countries can either replicate or build on and improve upon what we’ve done.”
ZEV commitments and long-term actions, such as setting fuel economy standards, send clear signals to the auto industry and private sector that decarbonizing transport is a priority. As governments worldwide follow the lead and set clear targets to phase out fossil fuels, the uncertainty in the market is reduced and more businesses will support the transition.
In NYC, the increased demand for vehicles to provide essential services such as medical assistance and food delivery during the pandemic highlighted the need to address underlying racial and social inequalities.
“The essential workers that have kept New York City running are predominantly people of color… so we’re looking at this in terms of racial justice and need to unlock sustainable transportation actions to improve our air quality,” said Roberton.
Addressing unemployment is also a big priority, particularly in disadvantaged communities that have been most affected by COVID-19. ZEVs can provide many green job opportunities, and state governments are basing their market development framework on the principle of equity.
“Really, everything that we do is focused on increasing access and equity,” said Eckerl. “How do we actually make that transition into the markets that need reliable transportation the most? It’s about getting benefits to the communities most in need.”
ZEVs are a crucial element of a green economic recovery. They also contribute to the greenhouse gas emissions reduction necessary to combat climate change and reduce harmful pollution levels that are affecting people’s health. Nevertheless, it is important to keep in mind a holistic vision of a sustainable, low carbon transport system with less private car ownership, and prioritization of public transport and car services. This will bring the most health benefits to the population and planet.
Source: Mirage News