It’s a fair question: What are the total global warming emissions of EVs, including power generation and manufacturing? Numerous studies have found that, thanks to their far superior efficiency, EVs in general produce less emissions than legacy vehicles, even if powered by coal-generated electricity. However, the mix of power sources varies widely among different parts of the world, so EVs end up being greener in some regions than in others.
A new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists, which updates and expands upon an earlier study that UCS published in 2015, found that driving electric is now cleaner than driving a typical gas-burner everywhere in the US. Furthermore, the electric advantage is growing as more regions are cutting their use of coal and increasing investment in renewable energy sources. The new analysis is based on updated data from the EPA, which shows reduced greenhouse gas emissions from power generation in most of the country over the past five years.
According to the new study, in 70 percent of the US, driving electric produces fewer emissions than driving a gasoline car that gets 50 mpg (a figure met by only the Toyota Prius and the new Hyundai Ioniq). On average, today’s EVs are as clean as a hypothetical gas vehicle that gets 73 mpg.
UCS has also updated an interactive map that shows how EV emissions compare across the country, and how much each region has reduced emissions from power generation over the last few years.
“Driving electric is one of the best choices a consumer can make to reduce emissions in their own lives,” said David Reichmuth, Senior Vehicles Engineer at UCS. “As the electric vehicle market has emerged over the last five years, electric vehicles are better than a 50 mpg gasoline car for 70 percent of Americans, up from 50 percent. It’s been remarkable to see the improvements.”
Source: Union of Concerned Scientists