More than 1,600 electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles are on North Carolina’s roads today, and more than 190,000 across the United States, delivering real benefits for our health and our environment, according to a new report released today by the Environment North Carolina 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 Dave Rogers, Environment North Carolina Field Director. “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 401,000 metric tons of climate-changing carbon pollution annually in North Carolina by 2025. That’s the equivalent of saving more than 45,122,000 gallons of gasoline per year, or eliminating tailpipe pollution from 84,000 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 the Environment North Carolina 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 Rogers. “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 some 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:
• North Carolina should set ambitious goals for electric vehicle deployment.
o 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.
o North Carolina could contribute by adopting the Zero Emission Vehicle program, which would require automakers to sell more electric cars here.
• North Carolina should repeal the electric vehicle tax. Passed in 2012, the tax adds $100 annually to all registration renewal fees for electric cars. Instead, North Carolina should offer a tax credit to make it easier to own electric vehicles. For example, Georgia offers up to a $5,000 tax credit.
• And finally, the EPA should help clean up the electricity system by finalizing the recently announced federal carbon pollution standards for power plants, and North Carolina should support and implement them.
“Let’s steer toward a safer climate and a cleaner, healthier future,” said Rogers. “Future generations will thank us for it.”