New Report: Electric Cars Are Putting the Brakes on Pollution

Environment Minnesota Research and Policy Center

For more information, contact: Tatiana Hakanson, 651-269-7071, [email protected]

Twin Cities— Electric vehicles could prevent more than 273,000 metric tons of climate-changing carbon pollution annually in Minnesota by 2025, according to a new Environment Minnesota report released today. That’s the equivalent of saving more than 30 million gallons of gasoline per year, or eliminating tailpipe pollution from 57,000 of today’s cars and trucks.

“It’s time to charge ahead,” said Tatiana Hakanson, Field Organizer, Environment Minnesota. “Electric cars are speedy, quiet and cool-looking, and they’re also one of the most important tools we have – along with EPA’s Clean Power Plan – to break our dependence on fossil fuels, clean up our air, improve our health and protect our climate.”

The report, Driving Cleaner: More Electric Vehicles Mean Less Pollution, shows that 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. In just the last two years, annual sales of electric vehicles have increased by 500 percent.

“The VOLT has the highest satisfaction rating of any GM car ever built. I have owned mine for 8 months and couldn’t be more enthusiastic,” said John Patterson. “From a low of 45 mpg in the coldest part of the winter to 493 mpg this May, this gas mileage beats conventional cars by an impressive amount.”

Electric cars are cleaner than vehicles that run on oil, even when charged with coal-fired power, according to Environment Minnesota’s 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.

“Decoupling transportation from carbon fuel gives consumers choice and power in the energy discussion, and that gives us room for change,” said Shawn Otto. “Electric cars have far more torque and performance than comparable gas cars, and lower maintenance costs because there are far fewer moving parts”

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 Tatiana Hakanson. “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 and the Obama administration, most major automobile manufacturers are now offering fully electric or plug-in hybrid electric vehicles powered primarily by electricity instead of gasoline.

However, 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:

  • The EPA should help clean up the electricity system by finalizing the recently announced federal carbon pollution standards for power plants, and Minnesota should support these efforts.
  • Minnesota should set ambitious goals for electric vehicle deployment. For example, in his 2011 State of the Union address, President Obama set a goal of deploying 1 million electric vehicles in the United States by 2015. To help make this goal possible, the Economic Recovery Act provided billions in funds for electric vehicle factories and charging stations. Minnesota could contribute by adopting the Zero Emission Vehicle program, which would require automakers to sell more electric cars here.
  • State and local governments could also contribute by making 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 for electric vehicles. Ensuring convenient access to charging infrastructure is also important.

“This policy brings significant savings to consumers, an extraordinary market opportunity for utilities, and cuts carbon pollution. It reduces Minnesota’s economic exposure to volatile gas prices,” said Fresh Energy’s J. Drake Hamilton.

“Let’s steer toward a safer climate and a cleaner, healthier future,” said Tatiana Hakanson. “Future generations will thank us for it.”


Environment Minnesota is a statewide, citizen-based advocacy organization dedicated to clean air, clean water, and open space. For more information, please visit