Why Electric Cars Are Taking Off

Research reflects this growing interest. “A total of 14 percent of all new cars sold were electric in 2022, up from around 9 percent in 2021 and less than 5 percent in 2020,” according to a report on global car sales from the International Energy Agency, an intergovernmental organization based in Paris. What’s getting consumers so amped about electric vehicles?

I caught up with Kate Whitefoot to find out. Whitefoot is both a mechanical engineer and a policy wonk at Carnegie Mellon University. She works at an impressive and ever-more-relevant intersection of ideas. Her research, according to her academic page, “bridges methods in engineering design and economics to examine a variety of topics, including product variety and product-line design, transportation energy, environmental policies, consumer choice, and automation and parts consolidation in manufacturing.” In a new paper, Whitefoot and her coauthors find out what’s driving people into the seats of EVs, and suggest when electric vehicles will make up the majority of cars and SUVs.