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Business and the Economy

UK Materials Science Professor Sees Interest In Biden's Electric Vehicle Goal

YT Cheng
engr.uky.edu
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Y.T. Cheng is a professor of Materials Science at the University of Kentucky.

A University of Kentucky professor of Materials Science said President Biden’s aim to see electric vehicles hit 40-to-50 percent of vehicles purchased in the U.S. by 2030 is challenging. But Y.T. Cheng also sees great interest in a shift to electric among automakers and many U.S. consumers.

Cheng said vehicles fully powered by electricity, fuel cell, or a plug-in hybrid sold in the United States last year represented 2% of the total number. So to hit 50% in nine years, Cheng admitted it’s a tall order. While automakers appear ready to up their electric car numbers, the physics and astronomy professor said they’re probably looking elsewhere for infrastructure support. “The government can do something that individual car companies cannot do. For example, to build infrastructure, the charging stations, sufficient density all around the country,” said Cheng.

Dr. Cheng said the cost of battery manufacturing is already declining. Cheng noted the cost of maintaining all-electric vehicles is less than gas-powered because there have fewer moving parts.

Cheng sees charging stations scattered along interstates. “It will be perhaps more like a welcome center when you go from one state to another. These rest stops along the highways and perhaps even fancier than that with some coffee shops, restaurants. Yeah, that would be quite appealing,” explained Cheng.

Cheng said such facilities might have 15-minute full charge stations. With that type of technology in place, he noted, extending the distances on one charge would not be as pressing. As far as environmental benefits, Cheng noted that would depend on how electricity for the re-charging stations is generated.

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