Electric Vehicle “Greenness” Varies Greatly by Region


Electric vehicles in general are a great step in reducing emissions that cause global warming. The emissions from a gasoline-powered car are always greater than the emissions created to charge an electric vehicle. However, a new analysis by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) suggests that the “greenness” of electric vehicles is not uniform across the country. They break down the country into regions that are good, better, and best for electric vehicles. Note there is no “bad” region in the country because electric vehicles outperform gasoline vehicles everywhere.

The UCS report, titled, “State of Charge: Electric Vehicles’ Global Warming Emissions and Fuel Cost Savings Across the United States”, analyzes the electric grid in the United States and calculates the environmental and economic costs of charging an EV compared with an gasoline vehicle.

They found that 45 percent of Americans live in regions categorized as “best”, in which an EV has lower emissions than a 50 mile-per-gallon gasoline vehicle. They beat even the best hybrids in the market. These regions include areas of California and New York, where an EVs could perform as well as an 80 mpg gasoline vehicle.

“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 Don Anair, the report’s author and senior engineer for UCS’s Clean Vehicles Program. “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.”

Regions that are dominated by coal power, EVs are in the “good” category. This means that they outperform gasoline vehicles which get an average 33 mpg.

The UCS researchers also found that EV owners can save a lot of money compared with gasoline vehicle owners. Based on electricity rates in 50 cities across the country, and gasoline at $3.50 per gallon, EV owners could save $750- $1,200 per year compared with the average new compact gasoline vehicle (27 mpg). For every 50 cent rise in gas prices, annual savings for EVs jump up $200 per year.

Article by David A Gabel, appearing courtesy Environmental News Network.

About Author

Walter’s contributions to CleanTechies over the past 4 years have been instrumental in growing the publications social media channels via his ongoing editorial and data driven strategies. He is the founder and managing director of Sunflower Tax, a renewable energy tax and finance consultancy based in San Diego, California. Active in the San Diego clean technology community, participating in events sponsored by CleanTech San Diego, EcoTopics, and Cleantech Open San Diego, Walter has also been a presenter at numerous California Center for Sustainability (CCSE) programs. He currently serves as an adjunct professor at the University of San Diego School of Law where he teaches a course on energy taxation and policy.


  1. That sounds great but there is always the same problem with E-cars, people like e-cars but they don’t actually buy them. E-cars have been around since the 1920s and they make a come back every so often, but they always fade away. Last year the Nissan Leaf only sold 10,000 units and the Chevy Volt sold less than that, and that’s with some large subsidies. By comparison, the Chevy Cruze sold 230,000 units in 2011 alone. People talk the talk about e-cars, but they don’t walk the walk. E-cars don’t sell.

  2. I beg to differ with the report, in that there ARE “Bad” areas for Electric vehicles. Those areas would be places like the extremely rural areas of Alaska, the Dakotas, Montana, and Far West Texas. In far west Texas it is a 56 mile round trip to the little farming hamlet of 212 people just to get the Mail, a few nuts and bolts at the living room sized Farm Supply Store, or Coffee. The closest Walmart is a 180 mile round trip away, so until they can make an AFFORDABLE electric vehicle with a range of 250 miles, you would run out of electricity before you got back home. There are NO Charging Stations out here in Ranching Country. Out here, the BEST that you could hope for is a Hybrid. Your Ranch Pickup would out of Design necessity be what we all are driving, a 3/4 to 1 Ton Diesel pickup.