When operating on battery power, electric vehicles offer significant environmental advantages over conventional gasoline or diesel-powered cars. Electric operation reduces or eliminates tailpipe emissions, including greenhouse gasses, and allows the use of cleaner, renewable and more environmentally friendly energy sources.
Reduced Emissions and Improved Air Quality
Carbon-based greenhouse gas emissions from internal combustion engine exhaust are believed to contribute to global warming and climate change. With BEVs, the only exhaust emissions come from power plants that generate the electricity used to charge the vehicles’ batteries. The amount of greenhouse gas reduction depends on the how the electricity is generated. Coal-fired plants produce the most greenhouse gases, but even in regions where most electricity is produced by coal, electric cars can still reduce greenhouse gases by more than 25 percent compared to conventional vehicles. When charged by nuclear power or renewable energy sources such as hydroelectric, wind, or solar power, electric vehicles cut greenhouse gas emissions even more dramatically.
The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) has shown that a plug-in hybrid vehicle with a 20-mile electric range could save 300 gallons of gasoline annually, eliminating 6,000 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions and reducing air pollution by 38 percent. EVs with even greater electric operating ranges, such as EREVs and BEVs are even more efficient and have less environmental impact.
The reduced tailpipe emissions of EVs help reduce smog in heavily populated urban areas. Fewer vehicle emissions mean less pollutants in the environment, which helps improves both air quality and public health.
Support for Cleaner, Renewable Energy Sources
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, petroleum supplies 99 percent of the fuel used in cars and trucks today. Gasoline and diesel prices continue to fluctuate as more nations modernize and compete for limited oil supplies. Motorists have become all too familiar with price volatility at the pump due to geopolitical tensions and instability overseas. While crude oil imports have been falling in recent years, the United States still imports roughly 40 percent of its petroleum from abroad (Bloomberg, August 2012), transferring hundreds of billions of dollars overseas each year.
EVs replace energy from imported oil with electricity that is produced in North America, and this benefit is magnified when that electricity comes from renewable sources such as nuclear, hydroelectric, wind, or solar power. Over time, EVs will become even more environmentally friendly as additional renewable energy from other technologies is added to the power grid. According to the EPRI, if all American drivers switched to plug-in electric vehicles tomorrow, the. U.S. electric grid could support overnight charging of more than three-quarters of those cars without building new power plants.