Energy Regulatory Policy
January 12th, 2022 2 Minute Read Testimony by Mark P. Mills

Testimony Before the U.S. House Agriculture Committee

Hearing on “Implications of Electric Vehicle Investments for Agriculture and Rural America”

Good afternoon. Thank you for the opportunity to testify. I’m a Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute where I focus on science, technology, and energy issues. I am also a Faculty Fellow at the McCormick School of Engineering at Northwestern University where my focus is on supply chain systems and future manufacturing technologies. And, for the record, I’m a strategic partner in a venture fund focused on software startups in energy.

Since the purpose of this hearing is to explore actions that might be directed at “the needed infrastructure and possible impediments to electric vehicle (EV) adoption in rural America,” permit me to highlight some of the infrastructure realities and some of the impediments emerging from the underlying engineering and physics of EVs, in particular for rural markets.

I should begin by pointing out the obvious. Without regard to government interventions or incentives, we will see a lot more EVs on roads in the future. Electric cars are now a viable consumer product. This transformation happened because of the combination of the unheralded advances in high-power semiconductors along with the far more heralded, forty-year-ago, invention of lithium battery chemistry. It bears noting that these twin technology revolutions emerged without government intervention or policies. The ultimate extent to which EVs can displace internal combustion engines, and how soon, will be determined, ultimately, by the limits of the technologies that now exist.  

As the Committee knows, while in recent years we’ve seen rapid growth in consumer purchases of EVs, the total number of EVs in use today remains, overall, at about a 0.6% share of all light duty vehicles on America’s roads. And, relevant to this hearing, the EV share of vehicles in rural America is at least ten times lower than that. At issue is whether that rural-urban asymmetry is amenable to policies that would incentivize greater rural EV penetration, and at what cost. Also relevant to this exploration is whether subsidizing greater EV use in rural America would make a significant difference in global carbon dioxide emissions. I’ll focus on three key realities.

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Mark P. Mills is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a partner in Cottonwood Venture Partners, an energy-tech venture fund.


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