While emissions levels associated with the electricity an electric vehicle (EV) consumes vary widely by region, drivers can expect to reduce emissions compared to average gasoline-powered vehicles, according to a new analysis by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS ).
Broken down by category and divided by electric grid regions, the analysis concludes that in every part of the country, EVs  outperform most gasoline-powered vehicles when it comes to global warming emissions. The analysis breaks the country into regions that are ‘good,’ ‘better,’ or ‘best’ for an EV.
According to UCS  (Cambridge, Mass., USA), nearly half (45%) of Americans live in ‘best’ regions where an EV has lower global warming emissions than a 50 mile per gallon (mpg) gasoline-powered vehicle, topping even the best gasoline hybrids on the market. In places like California and most of New York, EV’s environmental performance could be as high as an 80 mpg gasoline-powered vehicle.
Even in regions where coal dominates the electricity grid, EVs are still “good” when it comes to global warming emissions. In parts of the Rocky Mountains region, driving an EV produces global warming emissions equivalent to a gasoline vehicle with a fuel economy rating of 33 mpg, similar to the best non-hybrid compact gasoline vehicles available today, says the report.
While the environmental benefits of driving an EV vary depending on where the driver charges the EV , electric grids across the country are getting cleaner. In fact, 29 states and the District of Columbia are implementing renewable electricity standards while a greater number of coal plants are retired.
“The good news is that as the nation’s electric grids get cleaner, consumers who buy an EV today can expect to see their car’s emissions go down over the lifetime of the vehicle,” said Anair.
Based on electricity rates in 50 cities across the United States, the analysis found drivers can save $750 to $1,200 dollars a year compared to operating an average new compact gasoline vehicle (27 mpg) fueled with gasoline at $3.50 per gallon. Higher gas prices would mean even greater EV fuel cost savings. For each 50 cent increase in gas prices, an EV driver can expect save an extra $200 a year, says the report.
In some cases, especially in California, switching to a Time-Of-Use (TOU) electricity rate from a standard residential rate plan is necessary to save the most money, amounting to hundreds of dollars per year. TOU electricity rates allow consumers to access cheaper electricity when vehicles are being charged overnight.