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January 04, 2018
Brattle Economists Author Article Discussing the Implications of Autonomous Vehicles for Electric Utilities

Brattle economists have co-authored an article published in The Electricity Journal discussing the implications autonomous vehicles, ride sharing/ride hailing, and electric vehicles (EVs) may have for electric utilities and the utility business model.

The development of electric transportation is causing electric utility companies to analyze how their business models may need to change to accommodate EVs. The authors note that utility studies to date have focused on a scenario of gradual adoption of EVs replacing individually-owned non-electric vehicles; however, they have not fully considered the impact that automation and ride/vehicle sharing may have on the speed of electrification of transportation, and the associated opportunities and challenges for electric utilities.

The authors discuss how the development of shared autonomous electric vehicles (SAEVs) has the potential to make electrified transportation more likely, and how this may lead to a more rapid shift in the current transportation paradigm. They suggest that utilities need to understand the likely future behavior of SAEVs as compared to individually-owned EVs, the rate of autonomous vehicle adoption, their customer’s future transportation needs, and the resulting impact of those needs on their service territories.

The article, “The Electrification Accelerator: Understanding the Implications of Autonomous Vehicles for Electric Utilities,” is authored by Brattle Principals Jürgen Weiss and Ryan Hledik, Associate Roger Lueken, Senior Research Analyst Tony Lee, and University of California, Berkeley graduate student Will Gorman. The full article is available below.