ERE Winter Seminar Series-Dane Boysen
Dr. Dane Boysen, Program Director
Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E)
Title: “Fill’er up. Gas or electric”
In the future, how will we power our automobiles? Both natural gas and electric vehicles have clear public benefits in terms of reduced oil imports, increased energy efficiency, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. However, their benefits to the consumer are less clear. At today’s prices, consumers will pay a significant price premium to buy a natural gas or electric vehicle; which is often rationalized by reduced operating costs. For example, the cost to “fill-up” with natural gas is less than half of gasoline at about $1.50 per gge (gasoline gallon equivalent), while electric vehicles with an “effective” fuel economy of about 100 mpg use about a third less fuel than conventional internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. Despite these compelling economic drivers, the math still doesn’t work—owning natural gas and electric vehicles both add up to economically inferior options to gasoline-powered vehicles for most consumers. But, are vehicle economics really everything? What other factors contribute to consumer decisions? As we continue to invest in new energy storage technologies and to push the envelope on lower cost/higher energy density storage systems for natural gas and electric vehicles, could previously incorrect assumptions about consumer behavior be leading us in the wrong direction?