The future of motorized transportation is electric, there's no doubt about that (I write "motorized" because there's all kinds of other ways to get around, like walking, biking, transit, etc). What's in question is how fast the transition will take place. There are various ways to accelerate things and wean ourselves off from oil and move to the much better combo of electric vehicles + a progressively cleaner power grid. Government incentives for plug-in buyers are one way to do things, and while some will complain about them, the amounts spent there are tiny compared to all the direct and indirect government support that the oil and auto industry have received over the past 100 years. There's lots of opportunity to actually scale up support for EVs and scale back support for oil.
The latest initiative that would make the transition to zero-emission vehicles faster comes from an alliance of 8 U.S. states: California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont. Together they add up to about 1/4 of the United States' new car sales. They have recently unveiled an action plans that details how they intend to encourage the sale of at least 3.3 million ZEVs by 2025.
The plan is divided in 3 parts:
Build the market
- Promote the availability and effective marketing of ZEVs
- Encourage private fleets to acquire ZEVs
- Promote planning and investment in ZEV infrastructure
- Increase the number of ZEVs in government vehicle fleets
Provide consistent codes, standards and tracking
- Remove barriers to charging station installation
- Provide clear and uniform signage
- Track and report progress toward the 3.3 million vehicle goal
Improve the experience
- Promote workplace charging
- Provide consumer incentives for the purchase of ZEVs
- Remove barriers to retail sale of electricity as vehicle fuel
- Promote access and compatibility for charging networks
Some of the incentives could be things like access to the carpool/HOV lane, which are non-monetary but still quite valuable.
The states will also 'lead by example' by buying ZEVs for their government fleets. Together they have huge buying power, so this can help drive further economies of scale for EV and PHEV makers, benefiting everybody.
“Creating a strong and robust market for zero emission vehicles is critically important to the success of clean-energy technologies, and I am proud that New York is joining these other states to make that a reality,” said New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. “Here in New York, we will be supporting that effort through the Charge NY initiative by installing 3,000 electric vehicle charging stations – vital to the growth of a completely wired Northeast Corridor – and I am hopeful that more States will join this collaborative effort and help pave the way for the clean transportation options of the future.”
“Today, we’re putting a foot on the pedal to get more clean cars on the road,” said California Governor Jerry Brown. “This is real action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
You can read the ZEV plan here (pdf).