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New Report: Electric Cars Are Putting the Brakes on Pollution

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More than 220,000 electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles are on America’s roads today, including over 3,000 in Virginia (a 1,000% increase since early 2012), delivering real benefits for our health and our environment, according to a new report released today by Environment Virginia. 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 Sarah Bucci, Environment Virginia’s campaign 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 320,000 metric tons of climate-changing carbon pollution annually in Virginia by 2025. That’s the equivalent of saving more than 15 million gallons of gasoline per year, or eliminating tailpipe pollution from 67,000 of today’s cars and trucks.

“This report provides an exciting read for Virginians embracing electricity as a cleaner domestic choice for their vehicle fuel,” said Alleyn Harned, Executive Director of Virginia Clean Cities and EV owner.  “With hundreds of public charging locations in the state, the ease of home charging, and options available from a range of vehicle manufactures, electric cars are an exciting clean fuel vehicle." 

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

 

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 Bucci. “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.

 

“Despite 100 years of delay, EVs are coming to fruition,” said Steve Yakshe of NextGenCar.com and a Hampton Roads resident. “Today, many lower priced EV models are becoming available and being adopted around the world. As a society, we need to be preparing our infrastructures for their inevitable adoption.”

 

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:

Virginia should set ambitious goals for electric vehicle deployment.

The EPA should help clean up the electricity system by finalizing the recently announced federal carbon pollution standards for power plants, and Virginia’s leaders should support and implement them.

America should generate at least 25 percent of its electricity from clean, renewable sources of energy by 2025. Virginia’s state government can lead by example by developing renewable and energy efficiency targets for state-owned buildings and it should be made clear for citizens that solar power can be used for retail electric vehicle charging.

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, while Washington offers a sales tax exemption for electric vehicles. Ensuring convenient access to charging infrastructure is also important.

 

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