EVs Don’t Benefit Poor, Study Suggests

A new report from The Greenling Institute, an public research and advocacy organization out of California, suggests that electric vehicles are not benefiting poor communities, specifically communities of color where incomes aren’t that high.

The study, titled “Electric Vehicles – Who’s Left Stranded?”, shows that the overwhelming majority of electric car and hybrid owners are white people with an annual income of over $75,000, and that because electric vehicles are so concentrated, the potential impact on air quality is not as beneficial as it could be if the cars were adopted by a wider variety of drivers in more neighborhoods.

image via Tesla Motors

According to The Greenlining Institute, non-whites represent roughly 60% of the population in California. This factoid showcases an issue – if EV sales are similarly concentrated in white and relatively affluent areas, communities most in need of the environmental benefits from these vehicles won’t get them. The report, however, says education about range concerns, charging stations, and how to best take advantage of the smart meter and smart grid off-peak charging rates is needed as well to teach those in lower income communities about the benefits of the technology.

Although California recently announced new green car rebate incentives, the study notes that the future of federal and state subsidies for electric vehicles is uncertain, and the removal of those programs will further hinder purchasing ability in poorer communities. Because of the high personal cost of owning an electric car, The Greenlining Institute says more efforts should concentrate on cleaner public transit and car sharing fleets, which would have a broader impact on air quality.

A longer form preview of the report as a 12-page PDF document is available to download on the organization’s website.

Aaron Colter is a freelance writer and marketing consultant in Portland, Oregon. A graduate of Purdue University, he has worked for the NCAA, Dark Horse Comics, Willamette Week, AOL, The Huffington Post, Top Shelf Productions, DigitalTrends, theMIX agency, SuicideGirls, EarthTechling, d'Errico Studios and others. He is also the co-founder of BananaStandMedia.com, a free record label, recording studio, and distribution service for independent musicians.