CleanTechnica is the #1 cleantech-focused
news & analysis site
 in the world. Subscribe today!

Cars chevy-volt

Published on April 18th, 2012 | by Zachary Shahan


Electric Vehicles Good for the Environment & Save You Money

April 18th, 2012 by  

Electric cars produce zero emissions themselves, but even if you don’t have solar panels and you get your electricity from the grid, driving an electric car results in fewer emissions than driving a gasmobile or conventional hybrid in almost every case.

Electric cars themselves produce zero emissions when driven, but even if you factor in the emissions from electricity produced in your region that is utilized to power your electric car, it’s extremely likely your electric car is cleaner than a Toyota Prius. Furthermore, these emissions are not “local” — they’re are likely not occurring in your neighborhood, in your town, or in your city. Of course, if you have solar panels on your roof that produce as much electricity as you use, you are essentially driving on sunshine and producing no emissions from any source when you drive. It’s also important to remember that the grid is getting cleaner every day, so electric cars charged from the grid will just keep getting cleaner and cleaner.

For responses to other anti-cleantech myths, see: Anti-Cleantech Myths Debunked (Your #1 Resource).

Update [April 12, 2015]: The key UCS study this article is about has been updated. With the grid getting cleaner and cleaner, naturally, the update shows that electric cars are even greener today (when charged on the grid). You can read our summary of the update here.

The Union of Concerned Scientists has completed what is the most comprehensive study to date on the financial and environmental costs (or, more appropriately, savings) of electric vehicles.

“No matter where one lives in the United States, electric vehicles (EVs) are a good choice for reducing global warming emissions and saving money on fueling up, according to a new analysis by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS),” the UCS writes.

nissan leaf technological revolutionsFor years, EV critics have claimed that EVs don’t reduce carbon dioxide or other global warming emissions because they burn electricity from coal and natural gas power plants. While drivers in regions with a lot of fossil fuel power will not cut emissions as much as drivers in regions with a lot of clean energy power plants, no matter where someone lives in the US, driving an EV is cleaner than driving a gasoline-powered car, according to the “State of Charge: Electric Vehicles’ Global Warming Emissions and Fuel Cost Savings Across the United States.”

Notably, UCS also calculates how much EV drivers save in “fuel” costs — a lot.

Neither of these findings is at all a surprise to me, as one of our key EV writers has shown in the past that the cost of electric vehicles and their environmental costs are lower than conventional automobiles, but this UCS study is more comprehensive than anything we’ve seen to date.

Saving Money by Driving an EV

Everywhere in the country, an EV driver also saves money every time she or he “refuels” — compared to what they’d spend refueling a gasoline-powered vehicle.

ford focus electric on sale“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.”

Time of Use (TOU) electricity pricing, which many regions have or are implementing, allows a driver to maximize those savings, since they cam access cheaper electricity at night when they are likely charging their vehicles.

Why EVs Are Awesome

Regional Differences for EV Emissions

More good news is that most Americans live in the ‘best’ regions for driving an EV. UCS notes: “nearly half (45 percent) of Americans live in ‘best’ regions where an EV has lower global warming emissions than a 50 mile per gallon (mpg) gasoline-powered vehicle, topping even the best gasoline hybrids on the market. In places like California and most of New York, EV’s environmental performance could be as high as an 80 mpg gasoline-powered vehicle.”

How about the worst region? Well, even in the dirtiest (when it comes to electricity) region of the US — some parts of the Rocky Mountains region — driving an EV is better than driving most other cars. “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 non-hybrid compact gasoline vehicles available today — all while cutting our nation’s oil consumption.”

Also, notably, clean energy is increasing while dirty energy is getting shut down, all across the US.

“The good news is that as the nation’s electric grids get cleaner, consumers who buy an EV today can expect to see their car’s emissions go down over the lifetime of the vehicle,” said Don Anair, the report’s author and senior engineer for UCS’s Clean Vehicles Program.

Bottom Line: Driving an EV is Better for the Environment than Driving a Gasoline-Powered Car

That’s the take home message, and if you ever run into a commenter saying otherwise, be sure to direct them to this post or the report linked above.

“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 Anair. “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.”

back to the future car electric

EVs Getting Popular

10 new EV models are coming to market this year, and many more are on the drawing board. If you’ve been a CleanTechnica reader for a long time, you’ve probably noticed that we’ve increased our EV content a ton in the past year. I used to never write on EVs, and other writers hardly touched them, but with a few pioneering models hitting market, their clear environmental benefits, and a lot more EVs on the way, we have increased our coverage of these clean(er) vehicles considerably (and we’re now a top site for car coverage, according to Technorati).

Of course, EV’s are not as efficient or green as bicycling, walking, taking the train, or riding a motorcycle or scooter (especially an electric motorcycle or scooter) in most places, but for those who are going to stick with an automobile over one of the above options, EVs are the way to go.

Also, while EVs are greener than gasoline-power cars, we certainly need to keep maximizing their green factor by switching our grid over to a clean energy rather than primarily dirty energy grid. And for those of you interesting in doing so, there are a lot of options out there for going EV and going solar at the same time!

Source: UCS
Images: GMNissan Leaf courtesy of shutterstock; Ford; Wikimedia CommonsFisker;DeLorean Motor Company 
Keep up to date with all the hottest cleantech news by subscribing to our (free) cleantech newsletter, or keep an eye on sector-specific news by getting our (also free) solar energy newsletter, electric vehicle newsletter, or wind energy newsletter.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) one letter at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor. Otherwise, he's probably enthusiastically fulfilling his duties as the director/editor of EV Obsession, Gas2, Solar Love, Planetsave, or Bikocity; or as president of Important Media. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, energy storage, and wind energy expert. If you would like him to speak at a related conference or event, connect with him via social media:, .

  • Bob_Wallace

    The problem I have with the article you linked boils down to this one sentence –

    “The release of such chemicals through leaching, spills or air emissions can harm communities, ecosystems and food production.”

    What is not clear is whether the release of “such chemicals” is a requirement or whether proper practices could contain emissions.

    There are many manufacturing/refining processes that could be very damaging were we to allow companies to just dump their waste stream.

    This needs to be taken to the next step.

    A) Is containment possible?

    B) Would containment and proper disposal make the product overly expensive?

  • Rick Shea

    I recall, but of course cannot find now, one cradle-to-grave study which pointed out that EVs are not much better than IC-powered vehicles if their GHG footprint from production is factored in. In operation, yes they have lower emissions. But in total, I am wondering if anyone has studies to show the total footprint from factory to the end user to decommissioning/recycling. Perhaps this is another myth that cleantechnica can address.

  • SolarManke

    My own EV costs nothing to travel in! Sometimes when charging at friends, long distances away, I offer to pay something, which is always refused, but done anyway. Cross country travel in a Tesla is free, but usually, for now, carbon based, I know. My home charging is all solar powered. I enjoy exploring what is possible!
    Interesting how WI is eager to stick EVs with a fee for highway maintenance when it is a very small percent of overall auto sales so far. Oil and coal is just too toxic and yet costly for all but a few and our politicians with their hands out to who-ever is willing to enter the death spiral of corruption. Little wonder that alcohol is the favored brain solvent for memory dissolution among the fat white slobs in govt., and those soon to be.
    I would like to ad that NONE of my RE advents were subsidized in any way.

  • slave2liberty

    “We don’t need to demonize fossil fuels. They are driving the planet into a living hell. They’ve demonized themselves.”

    This illustrates the extreme dogma I’m talking about. Very few would argue that there have been no negative impacts on the environment and human health from time to time, resulting from fossil fuels. But if quality of life is really one of the objectives, then it is delusional to ignore the state of humanity when it is absent of energy. You don’t think Africa would be better off with a natural gas infrastructure so that people could have better access to heating, cooling, refrigeration, hospitals, and industry to lift people out of poverty? Ay least until they have the resources to build an alternative solution?

    I think the problem with folks like you, is that you only want to point out the bad things in fossil fuels (and nuclear), and only the good with “green” energy sources. I’m open for all ideas and don’t expect a utopian energy solution, as I believe everything has a cost or risk in some form or another.

    My primary concern is with some believing their ideas are infallible, thus deserving a special privilege in the marketplace. Looking at the big picture one must recognize that the health of a society goes well beyond the environment or one’s physical well being – it is also dependent on sustainable political, social, and economic systems.

    In a vacuum where one isn’t required to consider the economics (I.e. scarcity and alternative uses for resources) or unintended consequences, then we should eliminate all oil, gas, and nuclear today, and only build solar arrays for the entire earth. But, I think as you follow this out to its logical conclusion its not as cut and dry as you want to make it.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Recognizing the danger of extreme climate change is not extreme dogma. It’s science. The laws of physics.

      Obviously fossil fuels have played a very important role in developing the world we now have, but they’ve come with a large cost which we have only recently recognized. We have to quit using fossil fuels.

      I see no reason for less developed countries to build fossil fuel energy systems and then replace them with renewables. It makes far more sense to go straight to renewables. Just like much of the less developed world skipped over land line phones and went to cell phones – use the best technology of the time rather than wasting time and resources on the outdated technology.

      Renewables are sustainable. Sustainable well past the point at which the Sun heats up so much that it, alone, cooks us a few billion years from now.

      Our transition off fossil fuels will take a few decades.

      Twenty years from now I expect the planet will be using little coal and ten years later little natural gas. Petroleum for personal transportation may be largely gone in thirty or so years. Those changes will be driven by economics more than any other forcing factors.

      Wind and solar are likely to be our cheapest ways to generate electricity. The only possible alternative seems to be fusion but since it has yet to be demonstrated, let alone be shown to be cheap, we best ignore it for the time being.

      Driving with electricity is our cheapest form of personal transportation. There’s no cheaper alternative on the horizon.

      We are very, very lucky. Our cheapest energy solutions are also extremely abundant and our cheapest.

      • slave2liberty

        I’m curious – how do you feel about documentaries like Gasland and those promote their message regardless of the level of deceit involved?

        • Bob_Wallace

          I’ve never seen Gasland, therefore I have no opinion about it.

          My opinion on natural gas a fracking is not settled. I’ve seen little to no data that says fracking is creating significant problems.

          Clearly some fracking related “misconduct” has caused problems such as when polluted waste water has been dumped into surface streams or improperly injected into wells that can leak into aquifers.

          What data I’m aware of says that methane leaks at drilling sites can be minimized. (That is not to say that it is being minimized.) And that our NG distribution system leaks like a sieve.

          Those are controllable/fixable problems which we must address.

          Here’s my position. Natural gas is evil. Coal is even more evil. It’s in our best interest to get rid of the most evil first and then attack the lesser evil.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Let me add – I feel nothing but disgust for those individuals who fully understand that climate change is a real and significant problem but publicly deny for political or financial gain.

  • Ábel Vincze György

    We are looking for investor..seeking manufacturer,-doing the job
    New material the energy store,“NOVACCU BATTERY” 750 Wh / Kg ,
    . new Technology.
    Which is suitable the electricity supply of the electric cars.,
    Fast recharge option: to upload to 100% it takes a few minutes
    It is suitable electrical energy storage generated by the solar- wind- water and nuclear power industrial quantities
    This Technologia is an electric car which can be economically operated when no longer be run out of oil.
    Batteries, energy storage devices:

    Ni-Cd: 60 to 100 Wh / kg
    Ni-MH, 90 -120 Wh / kg
    Li-ion and polymer: 100 -180 Wh / kg.

    No-Va, .680-770 Wh / kg

    Data sheet of Novaccu battery
    Novaccu 15 kW
    delivered power 3750 Ah
    outside size
    80*80*40 cm
    weight 20 kg
    capacity 15 kW/h

    This equipment is the energy storage of the future whereat you can build a new industry.
    In the short features:
    • Fast recharge option: to upload to 100% it takes a few minutes
    • High energy density
    • Eco-friendly electricity supply
    • The stored energy in the battery of the NOVACCU can be stored indefinitely without
    loss years or more and no self-discharge
    • A further advantage of technology to transport is absolutely harmless
    Potential uses:
    • The storage of the NOVACCU can be replaced the power supply of the coal-powered
    • It is suitable electrical energy storage generated by the solar- wind- water and nuclear
    power industrial quantities
    • It is suitable to store electricity to drive electric vehicles
    We want to sell the entire technology of “NOVACCU BATTERY”
    The Novaccu Ltd. is the sole owner of the technology, and the technology is not patented, but
    we do not want to patent, we want to sell the technology.

    If you would like to contact us in orally, you need an interpreter Novaccu Ltd.
    Company for Production, Development and Trading of Chemical Power

    Hungary– 1447 Budapest
    Mobile: 0036-70-626-3828
    Mr. Vincze György

    Make yours the future of energy storage technology to do mass production and provide electricity to the world at large modernly stored What .
    Solar, wind, hydroelectric power plant or nuclear power to produce for you , your family , Your business , company, Foundation , Kingdom of , City of . Any time you can use industrial quantities of scaffold and carry it with electricity – . Vehicles , environmentally friendly energy from clean renewable energy sources ships that NOVACCU the store
    One of the biggest problems facing the Earth’s energy .
    The other !
    Energy !
    Storage . !
    You do not need coal power , gas power plant which can significantly pollute the environment and the coal or the oil which , burns , could be useful in many important product manufactured , does not burn , !
    No matter what you do always need energy ,
    Of the oil age will not end because they run out of oil ,
    Because remember?
    The Stone Age did not end because they ran out of stone but was replaced by a new technology .. ,
    One of the biggest problems facing the Earth’s energy .
    The other ! Energy ! Storage . !
    Energy produced by the solar panels so far mainly been used by day but humanity inhabitants of the earth for the industry , machines, evening and at night they also need lighting, heating electricity but as we can not always sunny and the wind always blows and the energy ” NOVACCU ” VAT can not be effectively taken quickly at any time and will put it in the car , on the boat .
    . Should therefore be Novaccu ,

  • P.Sundraparipooranan

    Most fuels we are talking fossil fuels that have taken millions
    of year to form from the dead plants and animals under the pressure exerted
    deep inside the earth. So this blog is very useful to all to save our country
    thank you for posting.

    fuel, Save Water, Save Electricity, Save Environment, Saving fuel, Fuel, Water,
    Electricity, Environment.

  • UNPLUGGED project

    The process is sure, in the future it will have more electric and hybrid cars, which help to decarbonise the enviroment.

    Unpplugged has different objetives, the main one is the inductive charging for EVs, through three means. Know more project that the EUROPEAN UNION has. twitter @FP7UNPLUGGED and our page

  • Kaiser Ahmed

    whats methodology used to carry out the data

  • vetxcl

    Better for the environment, yes. Total solution? No, not even close.

    • rickster

      For some folk who drive long distances, drive trucks to work or big suv and don’t want to give it up, of course not even close. For folks like me who drive less than 100 mi a day, I am able to cover 98% of the trips on my Leaf. And, I am not going to justify buying a gasoline car for the other 2% of the trips.

  • Pingback: 33 Top Electric Vehicle Stories Of 2013 (So Far) | CleanTechnica()

  • Pingback: Top 33 Electric Vehicle Stories Of 2013 (So Far) | PlanetSave()

  • Pingback: Car Hater To EV Lover (What Made Me Into An Electric Car Lover?) | CleanTechnica()

  • Pingback: How Electric Cars Won Over A Car Hater | PlanetSave()

  • Pingback: What Made This Car Hater Into An Electric Car Lover? −()

  • Pingback: Nissan Rogue vs Nissan Leaf (Cost Comparisons) | CleanTechnica()

  • Pingback: Nissan Juke vs Nissan Leaf (Cost Comparisons) | CleanTechnica()

  • Bein Move

    great article about electric vehicles. If you wish to check about PEV’s (Personal Electric Vehicles) please check . Best regards.

    • vetxcl

      Your company appreciates the cheap advertising , I’m sure.

  • Neil Blanchard

    If the source-to-wheels energy total is going to be applied to electricity, then it also has to be applied to gasoline. Gasoline does not appear out of thin air, right?

    In fact, it takes a lot of electricity (and also a lot of natural gas and a lot of water – each of which add even more energy to the total!) to make gasoline and deliver it to your tank. The best estimate I’ve seen is that it takes about 7.5kWh PER GALLON of gasoline. So, if you just used that amount of electricity to drive a Nissan Leaf almost 26 miles – and none of the carbon in the gasoline (or in the natural gas) gets released into the air.

    So, EV’s are a LOT greener than any fossil fueled cars – and if you use renewable energy to get your electricity, then EV’s are virtually pollution free.


    • Bob_Wallace

      Neil, I’ve seen that 7.5 kWh claim but I don’t find a basis for it.

      I’ve attempted to work out a number myself, don’t know how accurate it is, but I found about 3.1 kWh of Energy, not electricity, required to refine a gallon of gas. The amount of purchased electricity is quite low.

      I did not include energy needed to distribute.

      Here’s my spreadsheet. If you see a problem please let me know…

      • Neil Blanchard

        I got the 7.5kWh number from something Nissan put out a few years ago. And that number may be too low – check out Peder Norby’s blog:

        Peder suggests a conservative number is 8kWh/gallon of gasoline.

        With the “easy” oil dwindling, it takes more and more energy to get oil out of the ground. Some wells have to have millions and millions of gallons of water heated (using natural gas or even solar heat collectors!!) which then has to be injected down underground to loosen and flush out the crude. Extraction takes a LOT of electricity, because the wells are so deep.

        Deep water drilling takes the construction and operation of enormous rigs and ships and helicopters, etc. Tankers require huge amounts of fuel, and while refineries do make their own electricity, that should still count toward the carbon total.

        Tar sand bitumen is a whole other ballgame – it takes about 1 barrel of energy to get 2 barrels out of the ground and moved to the refinery, etc. It has to be dissolved in cheap gasoline *just* to be *pumped* through the pipeline! The reason they want to move it to the refinery in Louisiana is that they are spending billions of dollars to add the extra equipment to handle the acidity and the sludge – and the yield of good fuel per barrel is much less than with even just typical heavy sour crude.

        We’ve had THREE pipeline failures carrying the tar sands bitumen already. And the explosion they had at the “special” refinery a few years ago killed 5 people, and it cost them even more to guard against the damage the acidity causes.

        Refining nasty sour heavy crude takes much more energy, to boot. They would not be drilling six miles below the ocean, or bothering with the tar sands, or hazarding the Arctic IF there was enough “easy” oil to cover the demand.


        • Bob_Wallace

          Right, my calcs are for refining only.

          But I’m seeing people take “3kWh”/whatever of energy and treat it like 3kWh of electricity.

          A lot of the extracting, refining and transporting energy is fossil fuel – diesel, oil byproducts, coal, coke, NG, etc.- that would have to be turned into electricity with about a 60% energy loss.

          • Neil Blanchard

            So, that loss needs to be included. Extraction uses a lot of electricity. Even exploration, and all transportation, and all the pumping for pipelines, and to and from ships and tanks and trucks, and even the electricity to pump it into the car’s tank need to be included. And the diesel fuel used in the trucks, and the fuel in the supertankers, etc. – all needs to go all the way back to the well!

            It takes a *serious* amount of energy to get the gasoline into your car!


          • Bob_Wallace

            “It takes a *serious* amount of energy to get the gasoline into your car!”

            I’m not disagreeing with that at all.

            What I’m trying to convey is that if it takes “7/kWh” of energy to extract, refine and distribute a gallon of gas you can’t jump to “an EV could drive 21 miles”. Some of that energy is in the form of fossil fuels and a lot will be lost converting it to electricity.

          • Neil Blanchard

            The electricity used at the refinery *was* made on site – and it comes from burning fossil fuel, so why doesn’t this already cover that loss?

            I think you are missing part of the equation – it takes about 7.5-8kWh of electricity over the entire well-to-tank process – AND it takes a lot of additional natural gas, and often a lot of water IN ADDITION.

            And I think there are many other things that actually need to counted for a true total: the energy it takes to construct and use the *drilling* rig, including all the esoteric materials like drilling mud; which is as I understand it hard to make and therefor quite expensive, too. The bunker oil used to power the supertanker has to come from somewhere – and building the supertanker itself *should* be counted.

            Likewise, constructing a pipeline needs to be counted as well as the energy to pump oil through the pipeline, and any and all trucks used to move oil/gasoline need their diesel fuel added into the equation – and this essentially would have to include the *entire* overhead we are calculating out and split into each gallon the truck carries!

            So, if a tanker carries 11,600 gallons of gasoline 1,000 miles while getting 5MPG means it burns 200 gallons of diesel. That diesel has the same overhead of energy (or possibly even more, since the yield of diesel is lower per barrel of oil?) and this needs to be added into the footprint of the gasoline.


          • Bob_Wallace

            ” it takes about 7.5-8kWh of electricity over the entire well-to-tank process”

            No, I’m not missing the point. What I’m missing is the sort of detailed analysis that shows that 7.5-8kWh of grid-supplied electricity goes into getting oil from underground to fuel in the tank.

            I ran the US refinery numbers and found only 0.13 kWh of purchased electricity per gallon. I found 3.1 kWh of energy used per gallon. We don’t know how much of that 3.1 – 0.13 is being used for heat and how much for electricity. If it is all being used for electricity, at a 40% efficiency rate, then about 1.3 kWh of electricity is being used for refining.

            That is refining only.

            The energy used for extracting/transporting, if we weren’t using oil would we turn that energy into electricity? Likely not if we weren’t pumping oil.

            I think what is needed is a good, firm ‘electricity obtained from the grid’ total. A lot of the energy used in the process of getting oil to the tank wouldn’t be used were we not using oil.

          • Neil Blanchard

            Even the electricity they make on site should count. And all the natural gas that is used *also* uses electricity to find and drill and pump and compress it, etc. The total carbon footprint of oil has to also include the gas they have to “flame off”.

            As time goes on, it takes more and more energy to find oil, drill for it, extract it, more energy to refine it, etc. Because all the easy oil is dwindling, and the harder to get oil is often lower grade, and more acidic – and more viscous. The viscosity is what requires the massive quantities of heated water to be injected underground, and then pumping this thicker stuff up from deeper wells, and pumping it onto ships or in a pipeline.

            So, it depends on the “age” of the data you get, and there is almost too much to keep track of. Nissan had the 7.5kWh/gallon number and we don’t know what all it included. Needless to say there is probably many things that people are not adding in – the fact that extraction uses so much electricity is not something one would guess. But in California, extraction is the second largest consumer of electricity overall in the state.


          • Bob_Wallace

            I suppose it depends on the statement one wishes to make.

            I got into this issue when I saw someone say that if we could drive X miles on the electricity that goes into a gallon of gas. That if we simply quit using gas we could drive X miles. And X was a significant number.

            That number is lower than if we’re saying “If we took all the energy that goes into a gallon of gas and used it for electricity we could drive XX miles”.

            Have we split this hair about as far as we can?

          • Neil Blanchard

            The larger point is ALL the carbon that is represented by the gallon of gasoline is FAR greater than what is directly contained in the gasoline itself. That is why we need to switch to EV’s – they use far less carbon. And yes, I think that the electricity *alone* used to make gasoline would take a typical EV at least as far as that gallon of gasoline would take a typical car.

            That means that we don’t have to get into the weeds.

            And we have not even considered the ethanol in the E10 gasoline we use today…


          • jfreed27

            Coal based electricity, if used in an EV, has hidden externalities (health related) that stick taxpayers with up to $.18/kwh, from a Harvard Med School study. Sadly that must be counted. Of course, if one has solar roofs charging one’s car, then the pollution falls to near zero, amortized over, say 10 years.

          • Neil Blanchard

            We are down to an average of about 38% electricity from coal right now, here in the US. And yes, all fossil fuels have major health effects.

            But gasoline doesn’t appear out of thin air – a lot of electricity is used to produce gasoline! And a lot of natural gas as wall is used to produce oil and then the gasoline. In fact, it takes as much *or more* electricity to drive an ICE car than it does to drive an EV.

            So, all the overhead that is correctly applied to an EV that is charged from the grid – also must be applied to an internal combustion engined car.


          • jeffhre

            As natural gas prices have risen, we are back to 40% coal.

            IMO (LOL) 7.5 kWh of “energy” to deliver gasoline would be more accurate. And about 3 to 5 kWh of electricity to refine a gallon of gas depending on the efficiency (age) of the refinery.

          • vetxcl

            ‘Sadly’, using electricity HOWEVER it’s produced for an electric vehicle emits LESS greenhouse gases. Not that a vested interest WILL acknowledge it.

          • SteveEV

            Let’s say 6 1/2 years to be fully amortized financially. Currently manufactured solar modules will fully offset their own carbon footprint within the first year of operation, some approaching this in the first quarter of operation.

          • jfreed27

            That sounds about right. I paid $8.5 K for my 18 panels, after rebate and fed tax credit, and they are expected to save about $80K over their lifetime.

          • vetxcl

            It’s as simple as NOT using gas emits LESS green house gases.

            It ONLY needs to be Chinese arithmetic to deniers and fossil or nuke vested interests.

          • vetxcl

            Carreful, or you’ll grow hair on your palms with all that mental ‘exercise.’

          • vetxcl

            Actually, NOT all energy used to produce COAL energy (the MAJOR US source of power/electricity), comes from electricity. Even in mines, energy is dependant on gas or deisel. SOME energy usage, like for miner’s hats or the lighting IS electric. Coal energy is produced by BURNING coal and making steam, converting it through turbines to make electricity. And of course, in it’s transportation (gas deisel or a lower grade fuel) is burned to propel the train, to bring it to the plant – or to propel the ship to bring it other countries. You INFER that ONLY (or the majority of transport energy) is electric.

            Very few, IF any energy used is ALL from one source or another, exclusively.

            I’m sure there IS a finite amount of oil, or natural gas, just like there IS a finite amount of coal.

            But amounts on hand or potentially available is NOT the real problem.

            The real problem is having clean water, earth and air. And coal, gas/oil/deisel or even natural gas is problematic.

          • Zachary Shahan

            Man, funny you don’t see trolls demanding the things be added when they come demanding that electricity sources be added to the emissions of EVs. 😀

          • vetxcl

            Makes good enough sense , yes.

    • wildsky

      That should really be “Running Ev’s are virtually pollution free”, although ,relatively would be a better word.
      Most of the pollution, including CO2 ,stemming from cars, comes their production.
      EV’s are probably a better option for those that aren’t serious about long term sustainability, but no serious environmentalist should chose to carry 1/2 tonne of unnecessary other materials with them when they want to get somewhere.
      In the interim, communal vehicles, ideally public transport, but also taxis and hire vehicles, etc, could make a more serious inroad into vehicle pollution.

      • Neil Blanchard

        In the case of internal combustion engined cars, far more energy goes into the fuel used during the lifetime of the car.

        Production is a bigger proportion of an EV, by virtue of the fact they use far less energy to drive. Making an EV is more or less a wash with making an ICE; because remember aluminum (used to make much of the engine) takes a lot of energy.

        • wildsky

          Do you have an up to date study on that Neil ? This one implies that the difference is marginal :. I know that Americans drive a lot further than Europeans and that would exaggerate the post production emmissions, but the point stands ,that no car is virtually pollution free, as it’s very existence requires massive inputs and thus outputs.

          • Neil Blanchard

            It takes more electricity to drive a gasoline car than it does to drive an EV. The energy overhead for gasoline is huge, and it is getting worse all the time; because of lower quality crude oil, and especially tar sands bitumen.

            Electricity can come from many different renewable sources, so the carbon overhead of driving an EV goes down over time.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Consider an EV in Idaho. 90% of its electricity from renewable energy.

            Or South Dakota and Iowa. 25% of their electricity from wind.

            Driving an EV in those states are much more than “marginally” better than a gasmobile.

            All our state grids are getting cleaner. Within a few years the gap between EVs and gasmobiles should be quite wide.

          • wildsky

            The article and my use of the word ‘marginal’ refer to the difference between energy used to produce a conventional car and that used to run it. The article suggests that the former can, at times be higher than the latter. I’ve seen more recent info suggesting that it is normally higher , but don’t remember where.
            Since there’s little likelihood of the necessary reduction in car use ( to prevent global warming ,help relieve pressure on wildlife ,reduce social breakdown, etc), I’d definitely rather see a move to EV as a relative improvement. Especially as I have to cover my mouth these days to walk along the road outside this building to avoid lung irritation!

          • Bob_Wallace

            Yep, I walked on past your ‘marginal’ point.

            There is little likelihood in significant car usage. Perhaps we can move some people out of cars with better public transportation and safer bike lanes, but usage is likely to remain high.

            Anyone who doesn’t believe that should to the food court at their local mall, stand up on chair, and ask in a loud voice “How many people are willing to give up their cars in order to save the planet?”.

            (They’d probably treat you to a free lunch if you’re a good catcher.)

            The best route, I think, is to move to more and more sustainable/recyclable materials and renewable energy for both manufacturing and propulsion.

            Imagine an EV with an aluminum frame and recyclable plastic/aluminum body parts. Use it then melt it down and reuse it.

  • Pingback: California Plug-In Car Owners Driving Less & Saving Serious Money - CleanTechnica()

  • Pingback: Ford Green Cars: Yes, You Can Go Further With Ford - The Fun Times Guide to Living Green()

  • Pingback: Oil Prices Swings Don’t Touch EVs (Graph) - CleanTechnica()

  • Pingback: You Can Win a $200 Whole Foods Gift Certificate & More, Courtesy Mitsubishi i | Planetsave()

  • Moto_Electric_Vehicles

    Rising Gas Prices Could Be Good For The Environment

    Do you cringe every time you pull up at the gas pump to fill up? With gasoline prices at record highs, are you considering purchasing an
    electric vehicle to save fuel money?

    Well, if you are, you are not alone. Conservatively, it is estimated that the average cost per mile for a gasoline-powered vehicle is approximately .14 per mile, including oil and other fluids. Conversely, the cost per mile of a plug-in electric vehicle such as ours is about .07 per mile, and this includes the cost of replacement batteries amortized over two years. That’s a savings of over .07 per mile! These figures are based on national averages at the time of writing of: $3.91 per gallon for gasoline, 34 miles per gallon average mileage of a gasoline-powered vehicle, and .12 per kilowatt hour for electricity.

    Aside from the cost of gasoline, there is the environmental impact of operating a gasoline-powered vehicle. Exhaust emissions from these vehicles cause toxic compounds to be released into the air we breathe, while leaking fuel and oil contaminate soil and water. And that doesn’t even take into account the “noise pollution” caused by the sounds of internal combustion engines!

    So maybe it is time to consider going “green.” Our electric vehicles produce no exhaust; therefore no exhaust emissions! There is no fuel to leak into our lakes and rivers, and electric motors operate very quietly, making them an altogether green choice.

    As Carlie Bullock Jones said, “Pursuing green means approaching things different than the norm. I believe green design is a huge opportunity, not an obstacle, to truly make a difference on the environment, economy, and community at large.”

    We at Moto Electric Vehicles have seen the great impact that traditional internal combustion engines have had on the environment and the economy. We believe that it is time to think about driving differently, and we invite you to join us by purchasing an electric vehicle and driving “green”. Your wallet and the environment will thank you for it!

    • vetxcl

      The higher the cost of ANY fossil fuel the BETTER.

    • SteveEV

      And for those who demand EV drivers pay their “fair share” of road taxes; take a look at the damage caused by leaking fluids of non-electric cars.

  • Pingback: Ford and SunPower Want to Make You a Deal | Planetsave()

  • Winston Blake

    batteries = arsine

    • rickster

      What a crude definition for such a beautiful thing!. How about, OIL = pollution, death, disease, toxic, stinky, flammable, etc.

    • Wibley Flake

      No, the lead used in lead-acid batteries can cause trace amounts of arsine gas. This isn’t an issue in lithium-ion batteries.

      Also, your alternator in your gas vehicle is constantly charging your lead acid battery. So I’m not sure what you are trying to say.

      Besides that you have a very poor understanding of battery chemistry.

      • Winston Blake

        Chromium and thallium from lithium batteries is really a toxic hazard…

        Nice try…

  • Pingback: Are Electric Cars Green?()

  • Dr. Ory Zik

    This UCS report makes two true statements: The MPG of an electric vehicle (EV) is better than that of an internal combustion engine vehicle (ICEV), and how environmentally friendly an EV is, depends on where it is getting its fuel.

    But, with this in mind, the question becomes, how can we maintain an intuitive understanding of an electric car’s “MPG” rating and yet take that understanding to the next level of accuracy?

    Just as different ICEVs have different MPG ratings, different EVs have different efficiencies ranging from 2.5 to 4 miles per kilowatt-hour (kWh).

    The disconnect comes when you try to ask the average person what it means to use a “mile per kWh” in electric fuel. In the U.S., we’re conditioned to understand what it means to measure miles per gallon, but when it comes to kilowatt hours…we’re far more likely to simply scratch our heads and shrug.

    Different regions have different generation efficiencies. The following map shows those generation efficiencies in a metric of Electricity per Gallon of Gasoline, or EPG, measured in kilowatt hours per gallon of gasoline or Energy Points:

    Now we have the whole picture. If we are in California (EPG of 21) have a car running at 3 miles per kWh, our MPG is 3 times 21 or 63. If we drive the same car in Ohio (a coal state with an EPG of 11), our MPG becomes 33. Ultimately, with this equation, we are able to take our evaluations to the next level of accuracy to do an intuitive, side-by-side MPG comparison, to confidently say that the MPG of the EV is superior to that of than an ICEV and confirm that—yes—just how efficient it is depends very much on where you are located.

    • Zachary Shahan

      Thanks. We’ve written on this before, but happy to have you chime in with such info whenever relevant. 😀

    • vetxcl

      “WE” don’t need to reinvent the wheel that’s ALREADY been invented. Empg has ALREADY been calculated. Didn’t get memo? That’s so sad.

      “You’re mileage , of course, will vary.”

  • Ronald Brak

    Currently, a person who owns an electric car is also likely to be a person who has solar panels on their roof, so I wonder how that affects the emissions resulting from the use of the average electric car?

    • Zachary Shahan

      Yeah, going to come back to that in a future post. Do you have any info (a link) with numbers on that?

      • Ronald Brak

        Well, apparently according to the California Center for Sustainable Energy, 40% of Leaf owners have solar panels at home:

        You could try to find the original source on that. Not sure where else you could go, sorry.

        • Zachary Shahan

          Awesome, that’s very useful. 😀

        • Zachary Shahan

          hmm, odd thing, can’t find the original study. doesn’t seem to be on the CCSE website…

        • Zachary Shahan

          ha, just ran across this comment again and was just looking at this study last night:

          • JayV

            I own an EV but not the panels. The massive subsidies–indirect (forcing % of sales in CA, incentives)–and failure of EVs to pay road taxes (gas pays that) makes this a still very unsustainable model foisted on all taxpayers particularly in California. Note that almost ALL such subsidies go to the top 20% of household income folks. Rich man’s game, paid for by the masses.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Well, of course it’s an unsustainable system. It was never designed to be permanent. Solar subsidies are time limited. EV sales are units sold limited.

            Massive subsidies. That’s funny. Nuclear and fossil fuels have received massive subsidies, wind and solar only a tiny portion of that.

            Subsidies are investments. Combine subsidies with the deep pockets of the better off and we create a market for solar and EVs. The market (get ready to show some free market love) generates profits. Profits attract more participants. The participants compete for market share. Prices drop. Middle class and struggling people get access to cheaper electricity and affordable EVs.

            Yeah Capitalism!!! Wave that rattlesnake flag high!!!! We invest in our future and we win!!!!!!

          • Zachary Shahan

            Well, if we’re going to get into those weeds, we should look at who suffers and pays most for air pollution, water pollution, and climate disruption…

    • Ory Zik

      Ronald this is a great point. It depends on the type of panels and local solar radiation.

      Let’s assume that you have average panels and you are in an average location with 5 kWh/m2/day (Boston is 3-4 and South California can by up to 7).

      In this case, your solar panels will have an EPG of about 30[kWh/Energy_Point].

      Please take a look this link for reference:

      If your car consumes 3 miles per kWh purely from solar, simply multiply the two numbers and you have mpg of 75.

      If it’s a mix of solar and other sources (such as coal), the numbers will be different (lower). The mix will determine the EPG and thus the mpg. I hope this helps.

    • slave2liberty

      i would just add to, that that same person had their EV and solar panels paid for to a large extent by the taxpayers, for their luxury of living “green”. Subsidies don’t just come from rich folks.

      Everyone will end up paying higher energy costs to the electric company to support the manufactured demand for EV, regardless if they own one or not. Who cares in the end if you’re the fortunate one who can afford to get into one to begin with – let the rest of us eat cake!

      • Bob_Wallace

        Yes, you are correct.

        However you don’t tell the rest of the story.

        Those subsidies help drive down the future cost of EVs and solar panels for all.  Right now only those with a bit of extra money are in a position to buy EVs and install solar. As prices continue to fall, thanks to subsidies, more and more people will find them affordable.

        In a few years you should be able to go to the car showroom and choose between a $20k “Camry” that runs on gas and one that runs on electricity, but costs you only 25% as much to ‘fuel’.

        More,  all who purchase electricity from the grid will benefit from other people’s panels.  Excess power from rooftops flowing to the grid lowers the wholesale cost of power to the grid.  We’re seeing that happen right now in Germany.  Wholesale electricity prices during the ‘solar hours’ have fallen to the level of night time prices.

        Furthermore, a lot of EVs and PHEVs will help those who continue to drive petroleum fueled vehicles.  Each person who moves to the grid is one less person stopping at the pump.

        Very basic economics – lower demand causes prices to drop.  (Or at least rise slower.)

        • jeffhre

          No, slave2liberty is not correct.

          Wind power rates are currently at $.04 kWh v. $.11 per kWh for national retail average electricity price. Solar power is competitive with peak retail electricity prices in many US communities and in wide regions competitive enough with overall retail electricity costs to warrant installation of solar panels. Which broadens the market leading to ongoing reductions in solar costs.

          It has been calculated that a gasoline powered vehicle will trigger over $10,000 in oil and gas company subsidies over it’s operating lifetime. This creates a picture more complicated than “Everyone will end up paying higher energy costs to the electric company to support the manufactured demand for EV,” and it is quite possible that upon a full accounting, gas vehicle drivers will owe EV drivers a substantial debt, on a dollar per dollar tax basis.

          Costs from burning gasoline to taxpayers don’t stop there. “53,000 early deaths per year attributed to exhaust from the tailpipes of cars and trucks.” EV advocates shouldn’t gloat too much, as early deaths from electricity generation came in at 52,000, mostly in the Midwest where coal is still the main source of juice.”

          As the grid gets cleaner, less externalities are created by electricity generation. Coal which had accounted for nearly 60% of generation as recently as 1998, it accounted for 40% in 2012. EVs are concentrated in areas with lower coal use, and in California 30% of EV drivers employ solar panels to power their cars.

          “Everyone will end up paying higher energy costs to the electric company to support the manufactured demand for EV, regardless if they own one or not.

          “Oh, I see you have addressed that below.

          • jeffhre

            I have read of EV drivers seeing their utility companies buying wind power at negative costs during the night in Illinois from wind powers low prices on the spot market when demand is lowest.

      • Bob_Wallace

        You might find this article interesting.  It’s about how rooftop solar is reducing the cost of electricity in Germany.

      • Bob_Wallace

        “Everyone will end up paying higher energy costs to the electric company to support the manufactured demand for EV, regardless if they own one or not.”

        It may be exactly the opposite.

        The wind generally blows harder at night.  Wind farms find that they make a lot less profit per kWh at night because they are producing more for a less demanding market.

        Bringing a lot of EVs to the grid will create a profitable nighttime market for wind and cause more turbines to be installed.  More turbines means more cheap wind power in the middle of the day to offset more expensive power from peaker plants and cheaper electricity for all.

      • Zachary Shahan

        and the subsidies you seem to overlook:

        soldiers dying on faraway battlefields…
        civilians of other countries dying in their homes and on their streets… US citizens dying from cancers and other illnesses due to pollution… billions lost in droughts…
        billions in extra costs from heat waves…
        billions lost in sever floods…

        looking at one subsidy alone is called cherry-picking.

        • vetxcl

          See also; overinclusiveness. YUP, I’d hate to be in a ‘sever’ flood – might lose an arm or a leg there.

          How about starting with the RELEVANT ones; subsidies to PROFITABLE energy companies: oil, gas, electricity.

          s2l is a good example of what I call an ‘exceptionalist'(makes up excuses/imagined fatal flaws) or a reverse barometer (says the opposite).

          It’s fairly OBVIOUS that using solar DECREASES / does NOT add to emissions/GHGs. And the statement by s2l “Subsidies don’t just come FROM rich folks,” points out muddled thinking.

      • vetxcl

        Blather . You make a great reverse barometer. Have some more tea.Don’t mind the oily sheen on top of it. It’s ‘natural.’

      • rickster

        Just to make you a little bit mad, Just installed a 11kw solar array and bought a Nissan leaf this year. I get back $7500 back and $6600 on the solar array. Taxpayer dollars?, Maybe, perhaps you should take advantage of that too…. instead of talking the bad press. Eventually those subsidies will stop and you will be left on you gas guzzling vehicle. Also, since I am using solar panels I get some money back for producing electricity from renewable every quarter! so it is a WIN WIN situation. Since we reduced considerable the consumption of gas by using a Prius and a Nissan Leaf and solar panels we save over $500 gas a month and $200 of electricity. Zero carbon footprint and more money on my pocket so I can use that money to power up other industries other than oil.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Thanks to people like you Mr. Liberty will be able to put solar panels on his roof and an EV in his garage at a very good price in the near future. And then save himself buckets of money.

          And far less of his precious tax dollars will be going to treat diseases caused by fossil fuel pollution.

          Mr. Liberty should send you a thank you card.

        • David Sharp

          Rickster – You rock! You’re a shining example to why subsidies were created. Smart people take advantage of the incentives available. PV + EV absolutely rules over ICE and fossils.

          • slave2liberty

            yes indeed David – Really “smart” people like those politically connected crony-capitalists including Ener1, Solyndra, Al Gore, and the literally, hundreds of other little piglets sucking at the teat of the authoritarian state.

          • Bob_Wallace

            What little the piglets get isn’t doing us any harm.

            It’s the great big hogs who are still on the teat that drive our taxes high. Make the coal companies pay for their external costs now covered by taxpayers and we’d save billions.

      • David Sharp

        Hey Slave2liberty – What are your thoughts on the Ryan Budget to subsidize Big Oil to the tune of $40B? Since subsidies were created to help fledgling industry get a toe-hold, don’t you think it’s time to get Big Oil off the fed-tit and let a new baby suckle for a while?

        • slave2liberty

          Hey David are you conflating tax breaks (I.e. Keeping more of ones own money) with subsidies (I.e. Giving other people’s money to special interests)?

          • Bob_Wallace

            You think allowing companies to write smaller tax checks is different from the government to send companies checks is different?

            The federal tax on gas is 18.4 cents per gallon. The average state tax is 23.5 cents per gallon. That’s 41.9 cents. Where’s the other > $2.50 per gallon going if not to oil companies?

            Why should corporations get a free ride? Why shouldn’t they pay a fair share and a fair wage? Why should be be subsidizing Walmart by giving their employees food stamps and taxpayer provided health insurance?

          • slave2liberty

            What a bunch of Marxist clap trap. You must believe that some exist solely for the sake of being others providers, as if those whom you define as “entitled” have some inherent right to the fruits of others labor. I come from the so-called bottom 5% and to think that I couldn’t survive without the “benevolence” of the authoritarian masterminds. That’s a pathetic view of one’s own abilities, potential, and obligation to personal responsibility and of course charity.

            Why do you envy, despise and feel entitled to others private property?

            As for the low returns per gallon – once oil companies deduct mitigation costs, insurance, labor, equipment, and research (of which all provide great jobs), they’re left with lower margins than your average mom and pop business.

          • Bob_Wallace

            And you must be one of those freeloaders who doesn’t want to pay back the community that allowed you to become what you are.

            (I hardly envy, despise and feel entitle to others private property. I’m within the top 5%. I also don’t object to paying my fair share and seeing that others get a decent return for their efforts.)

          • slave2liberty

            Actually, I’m an “organic” farmer who makes it a point to not take any subsidies for solar, wind, infrastructure or anything else for that matter.

            I not only pay my fair share, but I pay others share as well – some voluntarily, and for.others via the force of the “egalitarian” state.

            You think that people having heat, warm water, or stores stocked full of food shipped by rail and truck not powered by solar, is somehow the result of YOUR community?

            I’m all for solar and wind, but lets be realistic on what would happen if we eliminated fossil fuels today mama replaced them only with subsidized alternatives where the political class and their cronies can take us for a ride.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Well, I’m glad to hear you pay your fair share. It’s too bad you do it with such a poor attitude.

            Of course we can’t eliminate fossil fuels immediately. This will be a drawn out process that will likely take more than 20 years. Perhaps as long as 40.

            It bothers you that wind and solar received public support in order to get established when fossil fuels and nuclear received many times more. That’s so interesting.

            The external cost of burning coal is extremely high. Simply tallying public health impacts, coal costs the United States economy $140 billion to $242 billion a year.


            Between 1994 and 2009 renewables received average annual subsidies of $0.37 billion. (15 x $0.37 = $5.6 billion)


            In one single year, year after year, we spend 25x to 43x to cover the external costs of coal than we spent in 15 years on wind and solar but it’s the subsidies for wind and solar which bother you. The subsidies for wind and solar which will allow us to close coal plants and save taxpayers over $140 billion per year. So very interesting….

          • slave2liberty

            A couple things; federal subsidies bother me in general because I see a large percentage of it ending up in the hands of the politicians and those who fund their campaigns, and because it creates massive disincentive for the recipients to work towards self reliant sustainable practices (in industry and society).

            As for coal subsidies – that I’m not aware of. If like oil companies you mean TAX BREAKS however, that is a different argument altogether.

            I appreciate the fact that you’re looking at the cost/benefit of coal, and somewhat on “green” energy, though I disagree with your numbers completely – TARP alone averages out to much more than the numbers you cite.

            It is the lack of honest cost/benefit analysis for all energy sources that bothers me when I hear people proclaim self-righteously that the only answer is to demonize fossil fuels and worship green energy at all cost.

            We will get there eventually I believe, where the balance between economic and environmental health is acceptable fir most on both sides of this argument, but it might be a little quicker if there were less dogma.


  • wattleberry

    To avoid any ambiguity, of course the tax I’m talking about is that component of the unit price,not things like current incentives which will of course have evaporated well before ‘the dust has settled’!

    • Bill_Woods

      I still don’t understand. The tax on gas, or the sales tax on new vehicles?

      • wattleberry

        The tax on gas.

        • Rikaishi Rikashi

          Not a big issue. Governments will just have to adapt and raise revenue from something else.

          Holding back a superior technology because it causes problems with easily-adjustable taxation models would be the height of stupidity and electoral suicide for whatever luddite tried it.

  • wattleberry

    A word of caution; in all these euphoric comparisons one factor never gets mentioned-TAX. Although you unbelievably fortunate US citizens have much less of it to contend with than, for example, us in the EU, in the interests of objectivity ought not this element be eliminated?
    When the dust has settled, governments are still going to have to raise revenue somehow.

    • vetxcl

      A word of further caution: don’t pontificate on what you KNOW little of. Also there are tax CREDITS and tax INCENTIVES given.

      And you ONLY speak for YOU, not us, anywhere.

Back to Top ↑