WASHINGTON, D.C. — More than 220,000 electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles are on America’s roads today, delivering real benefits for our health and our environment, according to a new report released today by Environment America Research and Policy Center. In just the last two years, annual sales of electric vehicles have increased by 500 percent.
Now, with strong implementation of President Obama’s Clean Power Plan and the development of more renewable energy, electric vehicles are set to deliver even greater benefits for the environment.
“It’s time to charge ahead,” said Travis Madsen, Senior Program Manager for Environment America’s Global Warming Solutions campaign. “It’s not just because electric cars are speedy, quiet and cool-looking. They are also one of the most important tools we have to break our dependence on oil, clean up our air, improve our health and protect our climate.”
The report, “Driving Cleaner: More Electric Vehicles Mean Less Pollution,” shows that electric vehicles could prevent more than 18 million metric tons of climate-changing carbon pollution annually in the U.S. by 2025. That’s the equivalent of saving more than 2 billion gallons of gasoline per year, or eliminating tailpipe pollution from 3.8 million of today’s cars and trucks.
Electric cars are cleaner than vehicles that run on oil, even when charged with coal-fired power, according to the Environment America Research and Policy Center report. That’s because electric motors are much more efficient than the internal combustion engine. And as our electricity system incorporates more wind, solar and other forms of zero-emission energy, electric cars will only get cleaner. Ultimately, an electric vehicle charged completely with wind or solar power can operate with little to no impact on public health or contribution to global warming.
With new advanced cars – whether a plug-in hybrid model like the Chevy Volt or a fully electric model like the Nissan Leaf or the Tesla Model-S – Americans can travel increasingly longer distances on electricity alone.
“But we need more electric vehicles on the road,” said Madsen. “So we’re calling on our leaders to get in the driver’s seat and make electric cars as convenient, affordable and widespread as cars currently powered by oil.”
Thanks in part to smart policies adopted by states like Oregon and Massachusetts, and the Obama administration, which doubled fuel efficiency standards to 54.5 miles per gallon in 2012, most major automobile manufacturers are now offering fully electric or plug-in hybrid electric vehicles powered primarily by electricity instead of gasoline.
“Transportation accounts for nearly half of our greenhouse gas emissions, so getting more electric vehicles on the road is important for Washington State,” said Charles Knutson, Senior Policy Advisor for Gov. Jay Inslee. “The Governor recently issued an executive order to extend our high-speed charging network, maintain and expand electric vehicle incentives and further electrify our public fleets.”
“The transportation sector accounts for about one-third of the greenhouse gases emitted, so the deployment of more electric and plug-in vehicles is key for Massachusetts to achieve our ambitious goals,” said Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Maeve Vallely Bartlett. “The Patrick Administration has put into place several policies that will help usher in a new era of clean cars, and we are collaborating with other states to get millions of electric vehicles on the road.”
There is much more that governments can do to accelerate the market for electric vehicles and make them a viable and attractive choice for more drivers. The report recommends the following:
• Governments at all levels should make it easier for people to own and drive electric vehicles. For example, Georgia offers up to a $5,000 tax credit and Colorado offers up to a $6,000 tax credit, while Washington offers a sales tax exemption for electric vehicles. Ensuring convenient access to charging infrastructure is also important.
• We should limit carbon pollution from transportation, just like the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative limits carbon pollution from power plants.
• America should generate at least 25 percent of its electricity from clean, renewable sources of energy by 2025.
• And finally, the EPA should help clean up the electricity system by finalizing the recently announced Clean Power Plan, and states should support and implement them.
“Let’s steer toward a safer climate and a cleaner, healthier future,” said Madsen. “Future generations will thank us for it.”