Using an electric car leads to fewer warming emissions and fuel cost savings, says the Union of Concerned Scientists.
The study, “State of Charge: Electric Vehicles’ Global Warming Emissions and Fuel-Cost Savings Across the United States” was published on Monday on ucsusa.org.
The researchers took an average gasoline price of $3.50 a gallon (3.79 liters) and concluded the driver of an electric automobile would save $750 to $1,200 a year compared to buying gas for a vehicle that gets 27 miles (43 kilometers) a gallon when driving 11,000 miles (17,702.8 kilometers) a year. The savings could add up to nearly $13,000 over the life of the car.
However, there are no specifications in the study regarding the total cost of ownership of an electric car compared to a gasoline-powered vehicle.
“The cost of the electric vehicles today vary pretty widely based on the models that are out there. It’s important for consumers to understand what the potential savings are on fuel costs, and that can help them make a decision about buying a vehicle,” said Don Anair, the study’s author and senior engineer for UCS’ Clean Vehicles Program.
According to the Ford Motor Co. the price for an electric car starts at $39,995 before a $7,500 U.S. tax credit. In the same time a gasoline-powered version has the base price of $16,500. Ford Motor is the producer of a Focus electric car already sold to fleets including those owned by Google and AT&T.
While the fuel economy of the gasoline-powered Focus SFE is rated at 33 mpg (miles per gallon) by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the electric Focus is certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as offering the equivalent of 105 mpg.
The Nissan Leaf has a suggested retail price of $35,200, and in California, incentives from the state and federal governments can lower the cost to $25,200, while the Nissan Versa, price may range from $10,990 to $18,490.
“They’ve got a ways to go, pricing and otherwise, before they can convince the bulk of Americans that this is something you ought to put in your garage,” said John O’Dell, senior editor with the Edmunds.com auto information website.
Electric cars generate fewer emissions than gasoline models even when taking into consideration the output from coal-fired power plants and other sources, the study says.
The environmental advantage varies by part of the country.
In California – where the major part of electricity is generated from natural gas plants, nuclear reactors, renewable power sources and hydroelectric dams – an electric car produces the same amount of global warming emissions as a gasoline-burning car that gets 79 miles to the gallon.
In Texas, where the coal is the main source of energy, an electric vehicle is environmentally friendly as a gasoline-powered car getting 46 miles per gallon. In several coal-centric states, an electric car generates more emissions than a hybrid. However, the electric will still outperform the standard compact car.
“For people who might have had doubts about the climate benefits of electric vehicles, this analysis shows they’re positive, no matter where you live. 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.