Friday, April 20, 2012

ELECTRIC VEHICLES: HOW MUCH BETTER THAN GASOLINE POWERED?

I drive an EV (electric vehicle); actually, I like to call mine an UEV (urban electric vehicle) because I dare not take it on the freeway - and it wouldn't get me very far if I did. 


I've always wondered about the reality of my UEV actually being better environmentally than a fuel efficient gasoline powered automobile, like my wife's Mini Cooper Clubman that gets probably in the upper 20's to lower-mid 30's mpg (depending on the kind of driving). There are certainly important questions about the cradle-to-grave environmental footprint of a small vehicle that runs on 6 car batteries and was made in China. In fact, maybe I don't really want to know! 


But the Union of Concerned Scientists, of which I am a member, has recently published an interesting study: State of Charge: Electric Vehicles’ Global Warming Emissions and Fuel-Cost Savings Across the United States. The article examines the emissions associated with producing the electricity used to charge an EV for every region in the USA. The Executive Summary is the place to start if you want to learn more.  Here is a graphic from the UCS report:




As seen on the map, there are good, better and best regions to own, and charge, an EV. The "good" regions are those where electricity is typically generated by burning coal, and in those areas, an EV has associated emissions similar to those of a gasoline-powered car getting 31-40mpg. In other words, you would be greener if you drove a vehicle that got 40-50mpg or higher than driving an EV. 


Well, it's not exactly that simple, but if this piques your interest, read the article. 

Happy green driving! 

And btw - feel free to cruise around on the Union of Concerned Scientists web site, also. 

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