Nothing less than a transportation technology revolution — that’s how Tom “Smitty” Smith has characterized the rapid-fire changes now underway in the electric vehicle industry.
Speaking recently to state lawmakers, the longtime Texas consumer and environmental activist said that as the cost of electric batteries continues to plummet, thousands more of the “EVs” would take to the roads.
“We had a significant transformation going from landlines to cell phones in just 15 years … and this is (going to be) another one of those dramatic cultural changes,” said Smith, now executive director of the Texas Electric Transportation Resources Alliance.
Smith made his comments during a Jan. 30 meeting of the State Affairs Committee of the Texas House of Representatives. He outlined for the gathered lawmakers several data points shore up his point. Among them:
- Published reports project that 29 global auto manufacturers plan to invest $300 billion in electric vehicles over the next five to 10 years.
- By 2025, United States consumers will have 200 models of electric vehicles from which to choose, including ten electric pickup trucks and a 1,000-horsepower electric Hummer, according to reports.
- By 2030, electric vehicles could comprise as much as 15 percent of all vehicles on Texas roads, he said
Mr. Smith credited steeply declining technology costs for the expected transformation. Electric batteries to power cars now cost about one-seventh what they did in 2010, he said, and battery density that determines vehicle range increases by about six or seven percent each year.
But Smith also warned that the influx of new vehicles could potentially affect the reliability of the state’s power grid. He said policymakers would need to develop new consumer protections, and take action to ensure that low-income Texans benefit from the new technology.
“We may need to take regulatory or legislative action to make sure we’re putting (charging stations) out in rural areas, on the interstates, and make sure we are putting them in urban areas, in low-income areas,” he said.
During a separate legislative hearing on February 6, Public Utility Commission chair DeAnn Walker said her agency already has opened a proceeding to consider policy issues relating to the new technology.
Smith also predicted some of these issues emerging during the upcoming legislative session. “These are exciting times,” he said.
Is a policy analyst for TCAP, a coalition of cities and other political subdivisions that purchase electricity in the deregulated market for their own governmental use. Because high energy costs can impact municipal budgets and the ability to fund essential services, TCAP, as part of its mission, actively promotes affordable energy policies. High energy prices also place a burden on local businesses and home consumers.