Dr. Kontou and MSc graduate Wu receive CUTC awards!

Dr. Kontou and Yen-Chu Wu at the 2023 CUTC Awards Banquet.

Dr. Kontou received the CUTC – Cambridge Systematics New Faculty Award by the US Department of Transportation Council of University Transportation Centers (CUTC). This award is given annually to a tenure-track faculty member in transportation education, recognizing outstanding teaching and research contributions to the transportation field. Yen-Chu Wu, who received her MSc under the advisement of Prof. Kontou and is currently a PhD student at MIT, was also recognized for her MSc thesis “Designing Electric Vehicle Incentives to Meet Emission Reduction Targets.” Yen-Chu received the Charley V. Wootan Memorial Award for the best Master’s thesis in the field of policy and planning in transportation studies!

MSc student Wu and Dr. Kontou publish electric vehicle incentives design paper!

Yen-Chu Wu and Prof. Kontou outside of Newmark Civil Engineering Lab at the University of Illinois.
Celebrating Wu’s upcoming graduation this August. Yen-Chu will join MIT’s CEE this fall to pursue her PhD degree.

Masters of Science student at CEE UIUC, Yen-Chu Wu, is the leading author of a paper that was recently published in Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment focusing on designing and allocating rebates and charging infrastructure investments to induce electric vehicle adoption and achieve emission reduction targets. The analysis indicates that rebates should be provided earlier than chargers due to neighborhood effects of electric vehicle adoption and the minimization of expenditure; availability of home charging influences consumers’ choice and the drivers electrified travel distance; rebates are more effective for modest drivers while charging stations should be prioritized for frequent drivers; network externalities should be further investigated because of their impact on electric vehicle demand. Find the publication, openly accessible, here: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.trd.2022.103320.

Liu awarded Midwest Big Data Hub Learning Innovation Fellowship

Shanshan (Shirley) Liu, PhD student of the Kontou Research Group, is awarded a Midwest Big Data Hub Learning Innovation Fellowship in Fall 2021. She will develop a data analytics module for a learning case study on alternative transportation fuels and energy use. Congrats, Shirley! More information can be found here: https://midwestbigdatahub.org/mbdh-lif-program-second-cohort/.

Energy Policy paper on disparities in electric vehicle rebates allocation is published!

Rebates amount (USD) per capita, before and after the income-cap policy, ordered by (1) scaled CES 3.0 score and (2) median household income (Guo and Kontou, 2021).

Our research examining equity issues of electric vehicle rebate allocation was published open access in Energy Policy. The paper was coauthored by Shuocheng Guo and Dr. Kontou; Shuocheng completed this research as part of an independent study under Ria’s advisement before completing his MS degree at UIUC! A brief overview and major findings of this research are presented below:

Overview: Incentives such as electric vehicle rebates assist with alleviating high capital costs of alternative fuel cars. We uncover distributional effects of plug-in electric vehicle rebates, focusing on a program in the State of California. We use economic attributes representative of populations of census tracts as well as data on rebates distributed to plug-in electric vehicle buyers through the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project from 2010 to 2018. Horizontal and vertical equity coefficients are computed, while measurement of spatial association characterizes spatial patterns of rebates allocation across the State. We evaluate the distributional fairness of rebates allocation between income groups and disadvantaged communities.

Major findings: We find that rebates have been predominantly given to high income electric vehicle buyers. However, the share of rebates distributed to low-income groups and disadvantaged communities increased over time and after an income-cap policy was put into effect. Spatial analysis shows high spatial clustering effects and rebates concentration in major metropolitan regions. We reveal neighborhood effects: communities with lower median income or disadvantaged receive higher rebate amounts when these are geographic neighbors to clusters characterized as high rebate amount receivers.

By assessing electric vehicles rebate allocation equity, we highlight potential criteria and directions for future policy design. Equitable incentive design could make a difference in the uptake of electric vehicles in disadvantaged and low-income communities!

Denissa at INFORMS and as a mentor for UIUC URAP

Congratulations to PhD student, Denissa Purba, who will present our paper on Alternative Fuel Vehicles Evacuation Planning at INFORMS this November! She was also selected to participate as a graduate mentor at the Undergraduate Research Apprenticeship Program (URAP) of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign! Through this program, Denissa will get the opportunity to inspire undergraduate students to conduct research in sustainable transportation systems.