Why Switch to an EV?

March 22, 2022

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.

 

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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.  

Safe­ty 

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.