When Dr. Mehrdad “Mark” Ehsani first heard about automakers investing in electric vehicle propulsion in the late 1980s, he was skeptical. “At first, I didn’t think it would be a viable alternative or support for conventional propulsion,” Ehsani said. “But the more I looked at it, the more it seemed promising, at least in certain areas.” He and his team have since conducted landmark research to make electric and hybrid vehicle propulsion viable, and his research has been cited more than 24,000 times.
Though Ehsani and his team have helped advance today’s electric and hybrid vehicles, his views on their implementation differ from most. For one, he is skeptical about their ability to single-handedly turn the tide on or significantly impact climate change. “If we could eliminate all carbon emissions from surface transportation in the U.S. tomorrow, its impact on global temperatures over 50 years would be roughly 1/40 of a degree Celsius,” he stated.
Instead, he sees more potential in electric vehicles making for better budget cars in the developed world and revitalizing vehicle infrastructure in the developing world. For example, he pointed to quality electric cars potentially replacing the noisy, inefficient rickshaws that populate India’s busy streets.