Cars/Trucks/Buses: The Transportation Emissions Challenge

If we can get a handle on producing carbon neutral energy for supplying grid electricity, the other whopping challenge is transportation. I have a hard time believing that everyone will be driving electric vehicles in the near future. When I say near future, it’s relative. Lets just say that the change over will not be sooner than what is practically attainable. So with that, tackling the transportation emissions issue will greatly affect our ability to meet the emissions target, whatever that is. It will also impact the rate at which we are able to ween ourselves off from petroleum based fuels.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau report on Income and Poverty in the United States the median income for all households in 2014 was $53,657. Then if we look at the cost of living for single adults to families this drastically reduces the consumer’s ability to invest in a new electric vehicle (EV). Cost of living will vary from region to region, but overall I think a great portion of the population will not be able to purchase new EVs with a cost range of $23,845 to $33,995. These prices do not include tax incentives, but if I can buy a used vehicle for under $5,000 that may or may not last me 5 more years I might take that gamble. Not that I would not like to own an EV and reduce my carbon footprint. It’s about a person’s income and how much they can spend. See Electric Car Price Guide: 2015-2016 Plug-In Car, With Specs: UPDATED.

EV Demographics 

According to an article published by Forbes, the 2013 sales of new EV buyers were between 36 and 55 years old, and 21% of those had an average household income of $175,000 or greater. Forbes also noted that buyers tend to reside in affluent zip codes and most of them reside on the west coast. I wonder how driving EVs in a region of relatively pleasant weather translates to regions with heavy snow. See Electric-Car Buyers Younger and Richer than Hybrid Owners.

There’s about 237,944,180 people within the driving ages of 16 – 74.

There are approximately 82,929,741 million people in the U.S. aged between 36 to 55 years. So the potential number of EV buyers that meet the age demographic would be 35% of the population. If everyone in this demographic had a car and was able to trade in for an EV, we’d still be left with 65% driving cars with combustion engines/hybrids, assuming everyone has a car.

The problem with the estimate is that it doesn’t account for what portion of that group resides within metropolitan areas where mass transit would be more accessible. It also doesn’t take into account income, but it shows that only a third of the population meets the consumer demographic for purchasing electric vehicles based on age.

So lets take a peek at the potential buyers of EVs with a base household income of $175,000. Looking at the distribution of household income from 2014, those meeting this fall somewhere above the 90th percentile in a log rhythmic distribution.

Living in Poverty

A portion of the population that would be the least likely to afford such vehicles would be those in poverty. In the U.S. Census report the poverty rate of residents inside metropolitan areas is 14.5% (38.4 million). For those living outside the metro area the poverty rate is 16.5% (8.2 million). I’m assuming that most metro areas will have mass transportation, so I will leave that population out. For those living outside the metro area, getting back and forth will most likely require a vehicle, so lets say 8.2 million people will not be able to afford EVs.

Nonfamily Households

The 2014 medium income for the single female was $26,673 and $39,181 for the single male.

Note: I posted this, even though its incomplete. It was started early 2016 before I took the summer off to sail. Anyone who has read to this point probably gets the gist of where this is going. When you take the data into consideration this may give some explanation as to why companies are still drilling and extracting fuel. Companies probably see there is no near future end for the need for petroleum. It is unfortunate. Transportation emissions make up a large chunk of the emissions pie. Hitting targets, like trying to keep global average temperatures at a 2 degree increase is highly improbable. It also seems futile when you think about how car manufacturers still produce combustion engines. They may be more fuel efficient, but it sounds like the market is not stressing for electric vehicles. So there’s not enough pressure for manufacturers to stop producing gas fueled cars and only produce electric vehicles.







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