Electric Vehicle haters just lost one of their major rhetorical weapons. A new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) shows that no matter where one lives in the United States, electric vehicles (EVs) are a good choice for reducing global warming emissions–although some areas are substantially better thanothers.
The UCS report, “State of Charge: Electric Vehicles’ Global Warming Emissions and Fuel Cost Savings Across the United States,” is a first-of-its-kind analysis of the emissions EVs create from charging on an electric grid and how the cost of that charging compares to filling up a gasoline-powered vehicle.
Broken down by category and divided by electric grid regions, the analysis concludes that in every part of the country, EVs outperform most gasoline-powered vehicles when it comes to global warming emissions. The analysis breaks the country into regions that are ‘good,’ ‘better,’ or ‘best’ for an EV.
According to the study, nearly half (45 percent) of Americans live in “best” regions where an EV has lower global warming emissions than a 50 mpg gasoline-powered vehicle, topping even the best gasoline hybrids on the market. In places like California and most of New York, the environmental performance of an EV could be as high as an 80 mpg gasoline-powered vehicle.
Even in regions where coal dominates the electricity grid, EVs are still “good” when it comes to global warming emissions. In parts of the Rocky Mountains region, driving an EV produces global warming emissions equivalent to a gasoline vehicle with a fuel economy rating of 33 mpg, similar to the best nonhybrid compact gasoline vehicles available today–all while cutting oil consumption.
While the environmental benefits of driving an EV vary depending on where the driver charges the EV, electric grids across the country are getting cleaner. In fact, 29 states and the District of Columbia are implementing renewable electricity standards while a greater number of older and dirtier coal plants are retired.
Wherever EV owners charge their vehicles, the report claims, they will also save money. Based on electricity rates in 50 cities across the United States, the analysis found drivers can save $750 to $1,200 dollars a year compared to operating an average new compact gasoline vehicle (27 mpg) fueled with gasoline at $3.50 per gallon. Higher gas prices would mean even greater EV fuel cost savings. For each 50 cent increase in gas prices, an EV driver can expect save an extra $200 a year.
“This report shows drivers should feel confident that owning an electric vehicle is a good choice for reducing global warming pollution, cutting fuel costs, and slashing oil consumption,” said Don Anair, the report’s author and senior engineer for UCS’s Clean Vehicles Program. “Those in the market for a new car may have been uncertain how the global warming emissions and fuel costs of EVs stack up to gasoline-powered vehicles. Now, drivers can for the first time see just how much driving an electric vehicle in their hometown will lower global warming emissions and save them money on fuel costs.”