Electric cars are gradually becoming more popular, but there are still real concerns about their driving range, the availability of charging infrastructure, and their price. Adoption of the technology is still rather slow.
A recent study at MIT looked at whether existing electric car technology could really make a meaningful reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. It reached a clear conclusion: yes it can.
The four-year study looked at detailed GPS data collected by special loggers installed in cars to see how and where people actually do their driving. They found that roughly 90% of the personal vehicles on the road daily could be replaced by low-cost electric vehicles available on the market today even if those cars can only be charged overnight.
Even accounting for the carbon emissions from today’s electric power plants, making this switchover would result in a 30% reduction in emissions from transportation. Of course, as the electric grid replaces more and more fossil fuel plants with green energy sources, this reduction would increase dramatically.
Realistically, some of us have lengthy daily commutes and other needs that make present-day electric cars impractical. And all of us have occasional needs for extended range such as during driving vacations. For these needs, a second car, a rental car, or perhaps a car-sharing service could do the job. By analogy, most of us don’t insist on owning a truck or van if we only occasionally haul large things around. We make other arrangements.
Electric cars will continue to improve in all respects, but the truth is that for most of us, they are already a practical, economic and smart way to drive.
Photo, posted February 10, 2015, courtesy of Karlis Dambrans via Flickr.