University of Montana Regents Professor Jakki Mohr has been appointed to the National Academies of Science Committee on Overcoming Barriers to Electric Vehicle Deployment. Mohr, who teaches marketing in the UM School of Business Administration, will help identify market barriers slowing the purchase of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids in the U.S.
The committee will study the technological, infrastructure and behavioral aspects of introducing more electric vehicles into the country’s transportation system, and will evaluate past incentive programs and the different components of the electric/hybrid vehicle “ecosystem.” Based on market barriers the committee identifies, they also will consider optional roles the government could play in encouraging a greater shift to electric and hybrid transportation.
Mohr will apply her expertise in commercializing new technologies, evaluating the ecosystem of a product – for cars, this includes the vehicles themselves, oil and gas stations, mechanics, dealerships and the whole range of related services – and innovation in business models.
Mohr said by switching up the business model, companies are beginning to market products to consumers based not only on what the product is, but how to get it into people’s hands. One such innovation, by the company Better Place, proposes that rather than purchase an electric or hybrid vehicle, which can be expensive due to their complex batteries, consumers would pay for usage of a car based on their electricity needs, similar to how the price of cell phones is subsidized through the length and features of a monthly plan.
Though electric and hybrid vehicles have been available in different forms for several years, the majority of the U.S. vehicle economy is still based on gasoline-burning models. Study of business innovations and the country’s ability to adapt to a shifting product ecosystem will help the committee determine how electric and hybrid vehicles can more effectively permeate the market.
Mohr was contacted by the National Research Council in July about the possibility of joining the committee. After a thorough interview and vetting process, she was invited to serve on the task force for a two-year commitment.
The committee position is not paid, but offers Mohr a chance to hone and develop her business skills outside the classroom and also appeals to her on personal level.
“We’re really at a tipping point with global warming, and I feel a very compelling personal desire to make sure the work I do is actually for the good of society,” Mohr said. “Really, until we can understand how to wean ourselves from fossil-fuel dependency, we’re not going to solve a lot of the challenges we’re facing.”
Mohr will attend her first committee meeting Oct. 28-29, and looks forward to learning how the group works together to conduct research.
Regents Professor of Marketing, UM School of Business, Department
of Management and Marketing, 406-243-2920,