• Primary Program Transport and Urban Infrastructure
  • Research Interests Behavorial decision science, consumer adoption, energy-efficient mobility and shared autonomous mobility-on-demand

Biography

Rubal is a research fellow at KAPSARC focused on understanding consumer decision making, in particular, consumer choice of energy-efficient technologies and mobility options under alternative technology and policy scenarios. Before joining KAPSARC, Rubal gained a Ph.D. at KAUST designing advanced carbon materials for energy and environmental applications, with a particular focus on energy storage, carbon capture, waste-water treatment, and hydrogen generation via solar water splitting. Prior to that, he worked at the University of Pennsylvania on a semiconductor industry-funded project, developing a continuum modeling framework for simulating the physics of micro defect formation in silicon crystals.

Publications

See all Rubal’s publications
  • Discussion papers
  • Conference paper
  • Instant Insights
  • Commentaries
  • KAPSARC journal articles
  • External journal articles
How Cost-Effective Are Electric Vehicle Subsidies in Reducing Tailpipe-CO2 Emissions?

How Cost-Effective Are Electric Vehicle Subsidies in Reducing Tailpipe-CO2 Emissions?

The transportation sector accounts for 24% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (IEA 2020). Road transport is the most utilized mode because of its convenience (Van Essen 2008). However, it is also the most emissions intensive mode, accounting for 75% of global transport GHG emissions, with roughly 44% coming from road passenger vehicles alone (IEA 2020).    

8th June 2021
Responsiveness of Saudi New Vehicle Fleet Fuel Economy to Fuel and Vehicle Price Policy Levers

Responsiveness of Saudi New Vehicle Fleet Fuel Economy to Fuel and Vehicle Price Policy Levers

The Saudi government has implemented several policies to slow the growth of, or even reduce, its on-road motor gasoline consumption. These include demand-side policies such as raising fuel prices and supply-side policies such as the fuel economy standards (SASO and SEEC 2014). However, the extent to which these policies have been effective in improving the Saudi new vehicle fleet fuel economy is not well understood. This commentary highlights the findings from a recent KAPSARC paper published in the Energy Economics journal that explored the impact of fuel- and vehicle price-related policies on Saudi Arabia’s new vehicle fleet fuel economy (Sheldon and Dua 2020).

21st April 2021
Are Electric Vehicle Subsidies Becoming More Impactful Over Time?

Are Electric Vehicle Subsidies Becoming More Impactful Over Time?

Various subsidies for plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) have been implemented worldwide at the federal, state and regional levels. These subsidies aim to promote PEV adoption to help reduce both local air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions (Hardman 2019). In the United States (U.S.), the federal government began subsidizing PEVs in 2010.  

22nd March 2021
Eliciting Preferences of Ride-Hailing Users and Drivers

Eliciting Preferences of Ride-Hailing Users and Drivers

The ‘ride-hailing’ services offered by transportation network companies (TNCs) such as Uber and Lyft have rapidly disrupted personal transportation, particularly in cities. Schaller (2018) reports that TNCs provided 2.6 billion rides in 2017 in the United States (U.S.), a 37% increase from 2016. The rapid increase in the adoption of TNC services can be attributed to the ease of access offered by smartphone applications and the higher availability of cars and drivers compared to regulated, traditional taxi services. 

24th February 2020
The Effectiveness of China’s Plug-In Electric Vehicle Subsidy

The Effectiveness of China’s Plug-In Electric Vehicle Subsidy

Subsidies for promoting plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) adoption are a key component of China’s overall plan for reducing local air pollution and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from its light-duty vehicle sector. This paper explores the impact and cost-effectiveness of the Chinese PEV subsidy program. A vehicle choice model is estimated using a large random sample of individual-level data for new vehicle purchases in China for model year 2017.

29th December 2019
Drivers of New Light-Duty Vehicle Fleet Fuel Economy in Saudi Arabia

Drivers of New Light-Duty Vehicle Fleet Fuel Economy in Saudi Arabia

This paper investigates the drivers of recent improvements in Saudi Arabia’s new light-duty vehicle fleet fuel economy. A vehicle choice model is estimated using aggregate and disaggregate new vehicle purchase data. The estimates are used to simulate counterfactual policy scenarios. The simulation results suggest that: Price elasticity of fuel economy for new vehicles has been decreasing in Saudi Arabia over recent years, but it is still more elastic than the new vehicle market in the United States (U.S.). Pegging Saudi Arabia’s fuel economy standards to U.S. fuel economy standards might warrant further economic evaluation. The increase in domestic gasoline prices in Saudi Arabia between 2014 and 2016 accounted for 42% of the increase in estimated new vehicle fleet fuel economy over that period. The remainder of the increase could be attributable to changes in product offerings and consumer preferences. The estimated elasticities, and thus policy sensitivities, vary by income and household size. Thus, a revenue-neutral ‘feebate’ policy – involving taxes on fuel-inefficient vehicles and rebates for fuel-efficient vehicles – could be more progressive than another gasoline price increase.

1st May 2019
Vehicle Retirement and Replacement Policy: Assessing Impact and Cost-Effectiveness

Vehicle Retirement and Replacement Policy: Assessing Impact and Cost-Effectiveness

Governments across the world, motivated by air quality improvement or by climate change mitigation goals, are trying to accelerate the turnover of older, higher-emitting vehicles and replace these with lower emission vehicles. One approach is to encourage consumers to scrap their old, inefficient and more polluting vehicles and buy new ones, typically plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) and hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs). This can be expensive on a per-additional-vehicle basis if fixed subsidy programs allow those owners who would have replaced their vehicles with a low emission vehicle anyway to obtain these subsidies. It is important that all parties — whether invested in conventional internal combustion engine (ICE), hybrid electric or newer, fully electric powertrains — understand the scope for more economically efficient policy to avoid incorrectly estimating the barriers to entry for new vehicle technologies. Previous KAPSARC research used counterfactual simulations to highlight the fact that policymakers might increasingly switch to targeted subsidy designs to improve the cost-effectiveness of low emission vehicle subsidies. This study, however, explores the effectiveness of a real-world targeted subsidy policy, California’s ‘Replace Your Ride’ (RYR) program. RYR gives targeted subsidies to lower-income households living in districts with poor local air quality to retire older vehicles and replace them with newer, cleaner vehicles. The effectiveness of the RYR policy is measured using new vehicle registration and sociodemographic data in a difference-in-difference analysis framework.

24th May 2018
Measuring the Cost-Effectiveness of Clean Vehicle Subsidies

Measuring the Cost-Effectiveness of Clean Vehicle Subsidies

Demand-side policies, including rebates, sales tax exemptions, and tax credits promote clean vehicle adoption, with the goal of reducing local air pollution and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Limited research to date on their cost-effectiveness and efficiency suggests such subsidies are unsustainably expensive, but this may not tell the whole story. KAPSARC used a nationally representative sample of new car purchases in the United States and developed a vehicle choice model-based simulation to assess the scope for reducing the costs of subsidy policies.

10th May 2018
Gasoline Savings From Clean Vehicle Adoption

Gasoline Savings From Clean Vehicle Adoption

Without the option to purchase plug-in electric and/or hybrid vehicles, conventional counterfactuals used in literature may underestimate the fuel savings from clean vehicle adoption, thus overestimating the costs of securing associated environmental benefits. Using a nationally representative sample of new car purchases in the U.S., a vehicle choice model-based counterfactual approach is proposed that allows for the prediction of what consumers would purchase if these clean vehicles were unavailable. The cost of demand-side policies in the form of financial incentives to encourage plug-in electric vehicle adoption is estimated.

16th January 2018
Understanding Long Term Consumer Demand For Fuel Efficient Vehicles

Understanding Long Term Consumer Demand For Fuel Efficient Vehicles

Consumer adoption of fuel-efficient vehicles is a crucial step in improving energy use and reducing emissions from the transportation sector. The range of options includes hybridization of powertrains all the way through to fully electric vehicles. To promote adoption, policymakers have employed supply side policies such as the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions/Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards and the Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) mandate, which require automakers to produce and sell fuel-efficient and alternative fuel vehicles. In addition, demand side measures in the form of financial and non financial incentives promoting ZEV adoption have also been employed. We measure the changes in consumers’ purchase motivations and potential demand in the wake of such programs by analyzing the past 11 years of new vehicle buyer survey data in the United States as a case study.

16th April 2017
Understanding Adoption of Energy-Efficient Technologies: A Case Study of Battery Electric Vehicle Adoption in the U.S.

Understanding Adoption of Energy-Efficient Technologies: A Case Study of Battery Electric Vehicle Adoption in the U.S.

The adoption of energy-efficient technologies is a key factor in improving energy utilization. The ways in which consumers make their decisions – incorporating non-economic factors – is critical to understanding the pace and depth of adoption. We present a way of characterizing current and potential adopters of new technology and the factors that influence their decisions using battery electric vehicle (BEV) adoption in the U.S. as a case study.

16th May 2016
Understanding demand for hybrid and electric vehicles using large-scale consumer profile data

Understanding demand for hybrid and electric vehicles using large-scale consumer profile data

Consumer adoption of hybrid and electric vehicles is a crucial step in improving energy utilization and reducing emissions from the transportation sector. To promote adoption, U.S. policymakers have employed supply-side policies such as Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions/Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards and Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) mandate, which require automakers to produce fuel-efficient vehicles. In addition, demand-side measures in the form of financial and non-financial incentives promoting ZEV adoption have also been utilized. We measure the changes in consumers’ purchase motivations and potential demand in the wake of such programs by analyzing the past 11 years of new vehicle buyer survey data with more than one million respondents in the U.S. We found that hybrid-electric vehicles (HEVs), plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles (PHEVs) and battery-electric vehicles (BEVs), collectively termed as “xEVs,” had the potential to secure as much as 11 percent of the U.S. automotive market in model year 2015, but the actual market share was only one-third of this. Potential buyers desire features and factors such as exterior styling, safety, warranty coverage and better resale value. Achieving market share beyond the estimated potential share of 11 percent, would require offering features that mainstream gasoline vehicle buyers value, such as reliability, handling and value for money. Currently, both actual and potential xEV buyers are willing to trade them for fuel economy, environmental friendliness and technical innovation. Future mainstream xEV buyers, however, may not be willing to make that trade-off. A narrowing of the consumer’s valuation gap between non-xEV and xEV buyers for purchase motivations including fuel economy, environmental friendliness, technical innovation and price is increasing the potential consumer demand for xEVs. The term valuation gap, refers to the difference between the average rating given by non-xEV and xEV buyers for a particular purchase motivation question in the survey. The closer the ratings, the smaller will be the valuation gap. Policy instruments such as sales-weighted fuel economy target show strong correlation with the consumer valuation gap. In combination with demand-side policies that make xEVs more accessible to mainstream consumers, they could be considered as viable tools to nudge consumers toward xEVs. © 2017 MOBI -Mobility, Logistics and Automotive Technology Research Centre. Link: https://www.scopus.com/inward/record.uri?eid=2-s2.0-85050097941&partnerID=40&md5=fd6ac204cd44dcd69b41d1eca57ead78

9th October 2017
The Impact of Recent Changes to China’s Plug-In Electric Vehicle Subsidy Design

The Impact of Recent Changes to China’s Plug-In Electric Vehicle Subsidy Design

Subsidies that promote plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) adoption have been a key component of China’s overall plan for reducing local air pollution and the greenhouse gas emissions from its light-duty vehicle sector. Since 2009, PEVs qualify for substantial rebates (up to US$9,000) from both the central and local Chinese governments. However, PEV subsidies were cut by almost 50% from June 2019 onward, and China had plans to eliminate the subsidies in 2020.

19th July 2020
Impact of India’s Recent Electric Vehicle Subsidy Announcement

Impact of India’s Recent Electric Vehicle Subsidy Announcement

The Indian government is urgently promoting electric vehicles (EVs) to help curb the country’s urban air pollution — the world’s worst, according to the World Health Organization. The steep increase in vehicle sales in recent years has brought deteriorating air quality and made India the third-highest oil consuming and greenhouse gas (GHG) emitting country in the world.

3rd December 2019
Impact of China’s Plug-In Electric Vehicle Subsidy Reduction

Impact of China’s Plug-In Electric Vehicle Subsidy Reduction

China, the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide, has set ambitious climate goals. These include reducing the carbon intensity of its 2005 gross domestic product (GDP) by 40-45% by 2020 and by 60-65% by 2030 (Xu, Chen, and Chen 2017). A key component of the country’s overall plan to reduce its carbon emissions is its New Energy Vehicle (NEV) policy. Battery electric vehicles (BEVs), which run solely on electricity, and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), which run on electricity and gasoline or diesel, are a major component of China’s NEV policy and market. The policy is aimed at increasing the market shares of BEVs and PHEVs. It is as much a tool to help reduce carbon emissions and local air pollution as it is an industrial policy to help China leapfrog other countries in the plug-in electric vehicle (PEV, which includes both BEVs and PHEVs) manufacturing space. Japan, Germany and the United States (U.S.) continue to be leaders in internal combustion engine vehicle (ICEV) manufacturing, and China sees PEV manufacturing as a way to propel itself forward in the automotive manufacturing sector. PEV subsidies are one of the most commonly used policy levers for encouraging PEV purchases globally, including in China. They reduce the high up-front purchase price of PEVs relative to comparable ICEVs, one of the major barriers to PEV adoption. Since 2009, PEVs qualify for substantial rebates (up to US$9,000) from both the central and local Chinese governments (ICCT 2017a; Hancock 2019). Furthermore, in several big cities such as Shanghai and Shenzhen, PEVs are exempt from new vehicle registration fees (ICCT 2017b). These PEV support policies have led to significant PEV market share growth in recent years, with PEVs accounting for more than 4% of new vehicle sales in 2018 (IEA 2019). However, PEV subsidies are scheduled to be cut from June 26, 2019 (Kharpal 2019) by roughly 45% to 60% (Hancock 2019; Kharpal 2019).

17th July 2019
India’s Political Ambition of Implementing Plug-In Electric Vehicle Sales Targets

India’s Political Ambition of Implementing Plug-In Electric Vehicle Sales Targets

The Indian transportation sector is going through a massive transition, especially the light-duty vehicle (LDV) sector. Policymakers consider the electrification of road transport to be one of the ways of solving India’s triple problem of increasing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, rising oil imports, and increasing urban air pollution. Several government ministries and departments have been involved in supporting the transition of the transport sector.

26th April 2021
What Policy Levers Could Address Indiaʼs Automobile-Related Externalities?

What Policy Levers Could Address Indiaʼs Automobile-Related Externalities?

  The Indian government has shown a growing recognition of the need for policy instruments aimed at addressing increasing air pollution, oil imports, and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with India’s light-duty vehicle (LDV) sector. Based on the findings of a survey of Indian passenger vehicle ecosystem experts, this commentary aims to understand the potential central and state policy levers that could be used to address these three issues.  

12th April 2021
Understanding Latent Consumer Demand For Fuel-Efficient Vehicles

Understanding Latent Consumer Demand For Fuel-Efficient Vehicles

Consumer adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) – including hybrids, plug-in hybrids and pure battery electric – is a crucial step in improving energy use and reducing emissions in the transportation sector. To promote adoption, policymakers have employed various demand- and supply-side policies, including incentives, corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards, zero-emission vehicle mandates, among others.

3rd February 2021
Understanding the Evolution of the Impact and Cost-Effectiveness of Electric Vehicle Subsidies

Understanding the Evolution of the Impact and Cost-Effectiveness of Electric Vehicle Subsidies

Our previous research found that promoting plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) adoption through financial subsidies is expensive. In this commentary, we explore how the cost-effectiveness of the PEV subsidy program has evolved over time. To understand this evolution, we developed vehicle choice model-based counterfactual simulations using annual United States (U.S.) new vehicle market share and vehicle characteristics data for each of the model years (MYs) from 2011 to 2017.

30th August 2020
Estimating the Size and Efficiency of the Saudi Vehicle Fleet

Estimating the Size and Efficiency of the Saudi Vehicle Fleet

Estimates of the size of Saudi Arabia’s vehicle fleet in 2015 vary from as high as 18 million (Arab News 2014) to as low as 6.6 million (OICA 2019). This significant variation stems from the fact that the Kingdom does not operate a vehicle registration program that deletes vehicle registrations from the records after a vehicle is exported, destroyed in an accident, or depreciated by wear and tear (Algadhi, Mufti, and Malick 2002).

24th June 2020
Understanding the Impact of Ride-Hailing Services on Travel Behavior

Understanding the Impact of Ride-Hailing Services on Travel Behavior

Major transformations are taking place in the road transportation sector, particularly in passenger auto travel. The arrival of transportation network companies (TNCs), including Uber, Didi Chuxing, Ola, Lyft and others, has the potential to critically alter key aspects of passenger auto travel behavior such as vehicle ownership, miles traveled, the uptake of alternative fuel vehicles and the use of mass transit.

26th December 2019
Irreversible membrane fouling abatement through pre-deposited layer of hierarchical porous carbons

Irreversible membrane fouling abatement through pre-deposited layer of hierarchical porous carbons

Water Research

2014

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