Why Switch to an EV?
As gas prices skyrocket, the interest in EVs is also skyrocketing. Tesla reportedly has seen a doubling of orders in the past few weeks. Other EV manufacturers have not reported in, but their demand has probably gone up as well.
Powering an EV is much cheaper than powering a gas car. Before the recent price increases, the average American spent an average of $131-$176 per month on gas. In the past month prices have gone up another 50%, so Americans are now spending $197-$264 per month on gas.
An electric vehicle usually costs about $25-$35 per month to power but can be powered for free at no cost public chargers available in many locations. Charging at off-peak hours or using power from rooftop solar also brings down the cost.
Why are EVs so cheap to power? Is electricity that much cheaper than gas? The main reason is that EVs are much more efficient than gas cars. Gas cars use about 12–30% of their energy for propulsion. The rest is wasted as heat and noise. A cool, quiet EV uses about 77% of its energy for propulsion. This makes for an inexpensive source of transportation, as well as a climate friendly vehicle.
People are interested in saving money on gas and protecting themselves from future gas price surges, but many do not know about other huge advantages of EVs.
Reducing Carbon Emissions
25% of Colorado carbon emissions come from transportation, with another 11% from oil and gas. If we could eliminate these emissions, we could go a long way towards net zero, and save 20,000 lives a year lost from breathing car exhaust.
EVS are not zero carbon. They require carbon for manufacturing and the electricity that powers them often comes from fossil fuels. However, because of their greater efficiency, they use much less electricity than a gas car uses gasoline. A Tesla Model 3, for example, has the energy equivalent of a 132 mpg gas car.
Graph showing 2020 carbon emissions broken down by sector.
In addition to efficiency, the cleanness of the grid determines how much carbon an EV creates. In Colorado, sadly, over a third of our power comes from coal. An EV in Colorado produces about ½ of the emissions of a gas car (taking into account manufacturing emissions). However, our grid is becoming cleaner over time. An EV bought today will produce fewer emissions each year. To figure out how clean an EV could be with 100% renewable energy, we can look at Washington State, which uses about 90% renewable energy. An EV in Washington produces about 1/5 of the emissions of a gas car. Of course, you can immediately get Washington’s 1/5 rate if you install solar on your roof or buy electricity from solar or wind sources.
An EV produces more carbon emissions to manufacture, but this is quickly recouped in 6 – 18 months by the lower electricity emissions. Future EVs will produce fewer carbon emissions in manufacturing because the EV batteries of today are 95% recyclable and will be used as raw materials for future batteries, and because batteries are getting more efficient.
Very few people are aware of how safe electric vehicles are. At first glance, it seems strange that a different powertrain would make a car safer. EVs are safer for a variety of reasons.
EVs are safer in an accident. The Tesla cars have the lowest probability of injury of any car ever tested by NHTSA (National Highway Transportation Safety Administration). Tesla has deliberately put a lot of work into safety, but other EVs are safer too. The IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) compared EVs and gas cars that had the same design, but different powertrains (like the Hyundai Kona gas vs. electric). They found that injury claims for EV versions were 40% lower than for gas versions.
EVs are safer in accidents for several reasons. First of all, the battery is a large, heavy slab under the cabin. This means that EVs have extremely low centers of gravity and the car is evenly weighted front to back. As a result, EVs are much less likely to spin out and are easier to control. The 1000 lb. battery also makes them almost impossible to roll over. The Tesla Model X SUV was the only SUV that NHTSA had ever tested that would not roll over.