New Study Finds That While EVs Are Better in Some Places than Others
They Are Far Better Than Gasoline Vehicle Emissions-Wise Everywhere
Electric vehicle hold great potential for contributing to reductions in global warming emissions, according to a new study by the Union of Concerned Scientists. “Cleaner Cars from Cradle to Grave” compares battery electric vehicles with similar gasoline-engine vehicles over their entire lifecycles, from raw materials used in manufacturing, driving the vehicle, and disposal or recycling. UCS sees the potential of electric vehicles helping to reduce emissions substantially through growth in a clean electricity grid powered by more renewable energy.
“This research shows how quickly both electric vehicles and the U.S. electric grid are improving. Electric vehicles have big potential to help us cut our oil use in half over the next 20 years and are critical to cutting carbon emissions,” said Don Anair, research and deputy director for the UCS Clean Vehicles program.
Leaf and Model S Chosen as Test Models
UCS researchers chose the two most popular battery electric vehicle models for the study, the Nissan Leaf and Tesla Model S, to compare with gasoline-engine cars comparable in size. The study analyzed modeling of these BEVs and the regions where they’re currently being sold, and found that excess manufacturing emissions are offset within six to 16 months of driving.
BEVs are being designed for cleaner driving than before in a country with cleaner electricity powering them, according to the study. UCS found that driving the average electric vehicle in any region of the country produces lower emissions than the average new gasoline engine vehicles that can get 29 mpg; UCS ratings in 20 out of 26 regions across the U.S. have improved since a similar 2012 report by UCS.
More than 66 percent of Americans – up from 45 percent three years ago – live in regions where powering an EV on the regional electricity grid produces lower global warming emissions than a 50 MPG gasoline car. Based on where electric vehicles are being sold in the U.S. today, the average EV produces global warming emissions equal to a gasoline vehicle with a 68 MPG fuel economy rating.
Oil Consumption Could be Cut in Half
UCS projects that using more EVs, combined with other oil-reducing practices such as efficient vehicles and advanced biofuels, can help cut projected U.S. oil use in half over the next 20 years. In a similar study from three years ago, UCS concluded that reducing oil consumption by half could come from vehicle and freight efficiency, smarter ways of doing business and getting around, and increasing the supply of low-carbon alternatives like electric vehicles and cellulosic biofuels.
As the electricity grid transitions over to renewable sources like solar and wind, the emissions reductions will see even more growth. UCS concludes that in a grid composed of 80 percent renewable electricity, manufacturing a BEV will result in an over 25 percent reduction in emissions from manufacturing and an 84 percent reduction in emissions from driving. That would result in an overall reduction of more 60 percent (compared with a BEV manufactured and driven today).
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Source: Union of Concerned Scientists