New Report: Electric Cars Are Putting the Brakes on Pollution

Media Contacts

Environment Texas Research and Policy Center

AUSTIN—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 Texas. In just the last two years, annual sales of electric vehicles have increased by 500 percent.

“Electric vehicles have great promise for Texas,” said Russ Keene, President of Plug-in Texas. “They are on the road today delivering cleaner air, enhanced fuel economy, lower driver operating costs, and helping to lessen America’s dependence on oil.”

The report, Driving Cleaner: More Electric Vehicles Mean Less Pollution, shows that electric vehicles could prevent more than 1,686,000 metric tons of climate-changing carbon pollution annually in Texas by 2025. That’s the equivalent of saving more than 189,715,000 gallons of gasoline per year, or eliminating tailpipe pollution from 355,000 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 Environment Texas’ 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. Tom “Smitty” Smith, Director of Public Citizen’s Texas Office, said about his Chevy Volt, “The range allows me to go back-and-forth from my home to my office which is 26 miles round trip day in and day out without putting a drop of gasoline in the car. Once I went 64 days straight without visiting gasoline station.”

“But we need more electric vehicles on the road,” said Luke Metzger, Director of Environment Texas. “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:

  • Texas 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.
  • State and local governments could also contribute by making it easier for people to own and drive electric vehicles. For example, Texas offers rebates of $2,500 for electric or hybrid vehicles. 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.
  • America should generate at least 25 percent of its electricity from clean, renewable sources of energy by 2025. Texas is already generating roughly 10% of its energy from renewable sources.
  • And finally, the EPA should help clean up the electricity system by finalizing the recently announced federal carbon pollution standards for power plants, and Texas should support and implement them.

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