Report Offers Ways to Spur ‘Mobility Ecosystem’ Evolution

The Rocky Mountain Institute has released a report on how policy, economics, infrastructure, and behavioral norms are shaping and spurring the “evolution” of “mobility ecosystems” in three nations – China, India, and the United States – and highlights the initiatives witnessing the greatest success.

By focusing on China, India, and the U.S., the RMI said in a statement that its report – dubbed Driving a Shared, Electric, Autonomous Mobility – focused on countries that are “aspiring or current leaders” in vehicle manufacturing and intelligent mobility technologies.

“Since each of these countries is at a different stage of development in these emerging technologies, they have the opportunity to share learnings and adapt each other’s frameworks to accelerate the global mobility transition,” noted Garrett Fitzgerald, RMI’s manager.

According to the report, ensuring that rides in autonomous vehicles are both electrified and pooled can “mitigate congestion and pollution issues” in those countries while providing “reliable, low-cost mobility for a rapidly urbanizing society.”

However, the report found that if done in isolation of the needs of the electricity system, mass adoption of electric vehicles could result in “significant” added costs, which could easily be avoided with “intelligent and forward-looking planning processes.”

Some of the insights garnered by RMI’s researchers include:

  • Falling battery costs will bring EVs to price parity with combustion vehicles in the next five to 10 years across all three countries. While prices will naturally fall as scale and learning continues, supportive policies are needed to accelerate this transition and help overcome behavioral norms that bias toward gas vehicles and the advantages of already-built fueling infrastructure.
  • Focusing finite EV subsidies on high-utilization vehicles—as has been done in India—allows for the greatest leverage of public funds to increase electric vehicle miles while creating broad public exposure to EVs.
  • A coordinated and collaborative approach to re-charging infrastructure investment and ‘build-out’ that engages the public and private sectors across both the transportation and electricity sectors is required for quick and efficient deployment of infrastructure at the level required to support rapid EV adoption.
  • Ride-hailing services will thrive in dense, urban environments where they are competitive with the price and convenience of personal vehicles and can be integrated with public transit – buses, light rail, and subways – and “non-motorized” transit modes.
  • Shared mobility must be well integrated with existing public transit infrastructure and should be part of future transit planning processes. Increased use of public–private partnerships should be encouraged to ensure the efficient use of public resources and private investment.
  • Encouraging electrification and pooling for autonomous vehicles through tiered taxes will help to avert congestion and air quality issues and avoid potential negative side effects of low-cost AV mobility services.
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