2050: All-electric cities
02.28.2019 - by John U'Ren
2050: All-electric cities

San Antonio is making headlines with its new climate action plan, which aims to phase out internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles by 2050, including all passenger and commercial vehicles. San Antonio isn’t the only city to consider such a ban; Paris, Madrid, Athens, London, and Copenhagen have all announced similar goals to reduce the presence of ICE vehicles in high-density urban centers, which suffer from a disproportionate amount of air and noise pollution.

The preponderance of declarations demonstrates a clear need to remove ICE vehicles from cities; but other than declaring this desired end state, what exactly has been done to achieve this goal?

Currently, nothing. There are zero enforceable laws on the books that actually put any of these plans in place. There is a clear worldwide will to remove ICE cars from cities, but the trouble is figuring out how to get there. Coming up with a specific plan that works for automakers, industries, and drivers is essential to meet any of these goals. There already exists incentives to purchase electric cars both in the United States and Europe, and disincentives to purchase high-polluting diesel cars in Europe, but we don’t have any current working geographic bans on gasoline and diesel powered vehicles to base a future policy on. What we do have are low emission zones in several European cities that ban vehicles that pollute over a certain emissions standard. These zones currently target mostly diesel trucks and vans and have yet to seriously impact gasoline vehicles. Some of these cities have specific increases in restrictions based on an established timeline, while others merely implemented a low emission zone with no further planned restrictions.

So with these current plans in mind, how do we achieve the 100% EV goal set by American cities like San Antonio?

Obviously we can’t immediately ban gas cars from these cities outright. Rather what we can do is figure out a gradual phase out of high-polluting ICE cars from city centers. How this is achieved will require a delicate balance that disincentivizes the purchase and operation of new ICE vehicles in these urban centers while incentivizing electric vehicles. Delivery services such as FedEx and UPS are already effecting changes through the introduction of electric delivery trucks. As EV technology continues to make significant strides in both capability and cost reduction, EV-only cities by 2050 looks not only more likely, but more economically beneficial to cities, businesses, and residents.

Elected officials in major cities across America need to start discussing how specifically to move towards an all-electric future for their cities. They need you, the EV driver, to call, write, and petition them to put forth clear legislative plans to move toward an all-electric future.

Declarations of intent are good, real laws on the books are better.

7 comments on “2050: All-electric cities”
  1. Mike Feeney says:

    I’ve thought about road tax and how to make it fair for everyone. Road wear is based primarily on the weight of the vehicle traveling on ththe road and the miles that vehicle drives. So, the current system of charging ice vehicles by gallons of fuel consumed doesnt really make sense. Likewise, charging EV drivers an annual flat rate doesnt make sense either.

    What about a formula that multiplies the miles traveled annually by the weight of the vehicle? Every vehicle can go in for its annual safety inspection, the odometer reading can be recorded, the vehicle can be weighed, and the tax can be assessed.

  2. Eric Prater says:

    The red are no free solutions, I don’t agree with more taxes, he’s have to stand on their own merit, when an event can go 400 miles on a charge, in minus 25 to 125f degree weather and cost $15,000 then they will work. I roughly calculated that we would need the equivalent of 1400 Grand Coulee Dam’s power to replace the ice’s. Where will it come from?

  3. Eric Prater says:

    Where is the electricity going to come from? It’s great to charge ahead, but we are going to need massive electric generating plants to handle the increase of ev’s. It’ll be the equal of the energy in gas to move an event electrically

  4. Joe Meyers says:

    I figured out ways to encourage people to replace their ICE cars including PHEVs and hybrids with EVs in the U.S. They will help phrase out ICE vehicles.

    Each of the 50 states impose a road tax where the proceeds will be used to build new roads and bridges as well as to expand, widen, repair and maintain roads and bridges. The rates are as follows:

    Car repair shops and service stations charge 10% tax under $1,000 in repairs and 5% for over $1,000 on the total cost including parts, materials and labor on all ICE vehicles. Repairs and maintenance on EVs will be 5% tax under $1,000 and 2.5% tax over $1,000. All repair shops and service stations must have a sign announcing that the road tax rates for electric vehicle will be half of the road tax rates for gasoline and diesel vehicles. That should start encouraging drivers to switch to EVs. The same is true for body shops.

    Most body work at the body shops costs well over $1,000. So the road tax will be 5% for ICE vehicles and 2.5% for EVs.

    This is already been done in some cities. Give EVs with no passengers access to carpool lanes during rush hours.

    Add charging stations at rest stops on the highways with signages pointing out their location.

    Every gas stations with more than six pumps shall replace half of their pumps with battery chargers for EVs and PHEVs. Ex. A gas station on a highway has 20 pumps. Replace 10 of them with battery chargers. That is 1/2 of them.

    As for ride sharing, both Uber and Luft require only EVs to be used, both with and without autonomous features.

    Most American ICE vehicle owners will hate this idea. In all 50 states, Washington DC Puerto Rico and territories, raise gasoline tax enough to match the cost of gasoline in Europe. For example. If gasoline in Great Britain costs an equivalent of $6.00 a gallon average, then the gas tax in America will raise the current price to $6.00. Anyone can request an increase waiver but there are two catches which will not be cheap. The one-time fee for waiver cards will be, say, $250 for gasoline vehicles and because diesel fuel is usually more expensive then gasoline, $150 for diesel vehicles. And they have to show their income tax records showing your gross income for proof that you need a waiver. Businesses would have to show their business license and financial statements. All of the extra money collected from gas taxes will be used for incentives for installing solar panels (renewable energy) and purchasing EVs, adding thousands of charging stations and providing light rail transportation.

    Pass this idea around especially to your senator and congressman (or congresswoman).

    Joe Meyers

  5. Simon Holden says:

    Introducing programs like London’s “congestion charge” for vehicles that operate within the central portion of the city might work. EVs could be excluded from the charge to encourage more vehicle owners to choose an EV. In the past some cities they have adopted rules which limit the access to the city by banning vehicles on alternate days based on their license plates (odd or even numbers). Again, such rules could exclude EVs to encourage adoption.
    Such programs are not “popular” because there is a cost to the individual which feels regressive. However, without punitive measures to force change the average person will have little incentive to adjust their transportation decisions. The matter is too urgent to wait for the voluntary adoption of full electric transportation. Policies that can be ramped up over time, to apply more pressure, must be a big part of the solution. Businesses and individuals must be prepared to accept that there are no “free solutions” and a period of serious sacrifice on a large scale may well be needed.

  6. Paul Scott says:

    As a former resident of San Antonio, way back before personal computers or cell phones, I considered the city with its 5 military bases to be very conservative, so seeing a progressive move such as this tells me there have been good changes afoot there. Smart, rational people seem to be in charge now.

    Squeezing the ICE industry through incentives for clean alternatives and small penalties here and there for ICE vehicles, will win this war. Cities like San Antonio help quicken the pace.

  7. Chris says:

    I was excited by the first sentence, that San Antonio plans to phase out EVs. Will an article be forthcoming? Thanks!

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