In En-ROADS, the adoption of electric vehicles and equipment is tied to market, financial, and policy drivers. Users can subsidize new electrification technologies, build charging infrastructure, and restrict fuel-based alternatives. Watch the video below for a summary:

The main sliders for electrification in En-ROADS add a subsidy to the purchase cost of either electric vehicles (in the case of the Transport Electrification slider) or electric equipment (in the case of the Buildings and Industry Electrification slider). Additionally, increasing the main Transport Electrification slider also scales up infrastructure to charge electric vehicles. The best graphs for exploring the effects of the Electrification sliders are the “Electric Share…” graphs under Graphs > Final Energy Consumption–Types.

To increase electrification, either focus efforts on boosting electrification or discourage the alternatives.

Encourage electrification

Electrification can be scaled up in three ways in En-ROADS:

  1. Subsidize purchase costs. Apply a subsidy to the purchase cost of new electric vehicle sales or building and industry equipment sales with the main Electrification sliders, or in the advanced view by using the “Electric transport subsidy” or the “Electric equipment subsidy” sliders. 
  2. Develop charging infrastructure. While not a limitation for electric equipment in buildings and industry, charging infrastructure is essential for electric transport that relies on batteries. In En-ROADS, charging infrastructure develops to support the current demand for electric vehicles. However, delays limit the attractiveness of electric vehicles due to the time it takes to build charging infrastructure. Users can build charging infrastructure ahead of the growth in demand by using the “Build charging infrastructure to meet future demand” slider, found in the detailed settings for Transport Electrification. 
  3. Lower electricity costs. A final way to promote the development of electrification is to lower the cost of electricity through subsidizing sources of electricity such as renewables, nuclear, and new zero-carbon energy.

Discourage alternatives to electrification

En-ROADS includes two options to discourage fuel-based alternatives to electrification:

  1. Restrict fuel-powered alternatives. Sales of new fuel-based vehicles (e.g., internal combustion engine vehicles) or equipment in buildings and industry (e.g., oil and gas furnaces) can be restricted by using the “Fuel-powered transport sales limit” and the “Fuel-powered equipment sales limit” sliders.
  2. Raise the cost of fuels. Taxing oil, natural gas, bioenergy, and coal or implementing a price on carbon can increase fuel costs. As a result, these indirect approaches increase the relative attractiveness of electric end-use technologies and boost their share of new sales. 

The following sections provide more detailed context.

Dynamics of the Baseline Scenario

Three factors account for relatively slow growth in global sales of electrified transport in the En-ROADS Baseline Scenario:

  1. Charging infrastructure. Transport electrification grows more slowly in the En-ROADS Baseline than in other estimates due to the steady, yet slow, deployment of charging infrastructure. Fuel-based transport doesn’t face the same limitation due to the abundance of gas stations and fuel distribution networks worldwide. The deployment of charging infrastructure relies on a reinforcing feedback loop connecting current electrified transport demand and investment in infrastructure. Without policy intervention, this reinforcing loop unfolds slowly.

  2. Economic decision-making. Electricity is less expensive than fuels, but electric end-uses are generally still more expensive in total than their fuel-powered alternatives. The total cost of ownership (TCO) includes the sum of the purchase cost, energy cost, and other operations and maintenance costs. In En-ROADS, the choice between electric and non-electric alternatives depends 50% on purchase cost and 50% on TOC. This can be adjusted under Simulation > Assumptions > Electrification > Attention to total cost of ownership. 

  3. Policy assumptions. The En-ROADS Baseline Scenario conservatively assumes that current policies that promote electrification will not strengthen in the future. Sliders can be adjusted, however, to encourage electrification and see the impact of additional action relative to the Baseline Scenario.

Comparing rates of transportation electrification to others’ estimates

The International Energy Agency’s (IEA) Global EV Outlook 2022 projects that electric vehicles could comprise 28% of transport sales in 2030, and Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) projects that it could be as high as 31%,1 while the En-ROADS Baseline Scenario estimates a more modest 9% (as shown in the graph below).2 Many of the assumptions around charging infrastructure deployment, economic decision-making, and policy assumptions from these other estimates are not published, so we don’t know their basis.

To create a scenario that is closer to the estimates of IEA and BNEF, several actions need to be adjusted. This scenario requires a 25% subsidy to electric transport, as well as building 100% of required charging infrastructure to meet the future demand. The following graph shows how this scenario compares to the 2025 and 2030 scenarios from IEA and BNEF.

Energy costs and electrification

Electrification in En-ROADS responds to economic forces such as energy costs. Two scenarios that illustrate the relationship are 1) low-cost electricity from a breakthrough in new zero-carbon energy; and 2) high-cost fossil fuels due to a price on carbon.

In the first scenario, shown in the graphs below, a significant breakthrough in new zero-carbon energy occurs (New Zero-Carbon slider is set to its maximum), yet the rates of electrification for transportation (left graph) and buildings & industry (right graph) remain modest. The attractiveness of the electric transport and the equipment depends more on the purchase costs than on electricity costs.

The second scenario explores the effect of a $250 price on carbon. Rates of electrification are much higher across both transportation (left graph below), with oil prices making internal combustion engines less attractive, and buildings & industry (right graph below), as heating and cooking with gas and oil becomes less attractive.

In both scenarios above, the total cost of ownership (TCO) plays a crucial role in determining the attractiveness of end-use alternatives. Two graphs demonstrate how the relative TCO between electric and non-electric end-uses change across the scenarios: “Cost Ratio of Electric to Oil-Powered Transport” and “Cost Ratio of Electric to Fuel-Powered Equipment.”

Key graphs

Key graphs related to electrification are located in several graph categories:

  • Graphs > Final Energy Consumption–Types > Electric Share…
  • Graphs > Final Energy Consumption–Totals > Final Energy Consumption by End Use–Area
  • Graphs > Financial > Cost Ratio of Electric to Oil-Powered Transport
  • Graphs > Financial > Cost Ratio of Electric to Fuel-Powered Equipment

The “Electric Share of Transport Sales” graph shows the percentage of new transport sold each year that is electric and the “Electric Share of Total Transport” graph shows the share of total transport (old and new) that is electrified.

The “Cost Ratio of Electric to Oil-Powered Transport” graph illustrates how the total cost of ownership for electric vehicles changes compared to oil-powered alternatives. The dotted line on the graph below represents the level where total cost of ownership for electric and oil-powered transport are equal. When a scenario goes below the dotted line, the total cost of owning an electric vehicle is less than the total cost of oil-powered transport. When that occurs, electric transport sales will increase steadily because they will be more attractive to consumers.

Electrification assumptions

Assumptions in Simulation > Assumptions > Energy > Electrification that can be adjusted for exploring alternative electrification scenarios include:

  • “Attention to total cost of ownership” determines the distribution of a consumer’s focus between total cost of ownership (TCO) and purchase cost during purchasing decisions. By default, TCO and purchase cost have equal weight.

  • “Time to build transport charging infrastructure for future demand” indicates the amount of time required to construct additional road and rail transport charging infrastructure to meet future demand. The default amount of time it takes to build additional charging infrastructure is 30 years.

  • “Capital cost reducible by progress ratio” specifies the portion of initial capital costs that can decrease through learning, experience, and economies of scale at a rate determined by the progress ratio.

1. Personal communication (September 2022)

2. En-ROADS assumes that road and rail transport constitutes approximately 85% of the total global transport while aviation and shipping reflects the remaining 15%. The En-ROADS Baseline Scenario assumes all aviation and shipping transport is fuel-powered. Since the IEA and BNEF projections are only for road transport (cars, buses, and commercial vehicles), their published values are adjusted by 85% to reflect these assumptions (rail represents a small fraction of the road and rail category).