A new study out of the U.S. has determined electric vehicles, even with their current charging limitations, could not only replace 90 percent of the gasoline-powered vehicles in America today, but do just as good a job. It is likely, experts say, that similar numbers could be applied to other countries.
Low-cost electric cars
The study is from a research team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Lead author of the study, Prof. Jessika Trancik, an associate professor in Energy Studies at MIT’s Institute for Data, Systems, and Society (IDSS), said the switch to electric vehicles could happen now. She said the result would be a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions — and great savings to travellers.
She said it could happen despite current limitations on how far vehicles can travel off of a full-charge. The amount of time vehicles can travel without a charge is expected to grow as the technology advances; but even now, Prof. Trancik and her team discovered, electric vehicles could do what gas-powered vehicles manage to do in the vast majority of instances.
“Roughly 90 percent of the personal vehicles on the road daily could be replaced by a low-cost electric vehicle available on the market today, even if the cars can only charge overnight,” Trancik said. “Which would more than meet near-term U.S. climate targets for personal vehicle travel.”
MIT study results
The study, titled Potential for widespread electrification of personal vehicle travel in the United States and published Monday in the journal Nature Energy, came to the conclusion that should such a change take place, emissions from transportation would be reduced by about 30 percent.
The study found that reductions will be even greater because power plants that today supply the energy to electric vehicles will find ways to increase decarbonization.
To arrive at their conclusions the study team looked at what it is travellers now need their vehicles to do, examined “detailed driving behaviour” and determined that in 90 percent of the cases an electric vehicle could meet traveller needs.
A significant number of EVs are being driven in some countries, in particular China and some European countries, but in the U.S. under one percent of vehicles are plug-in electric vehicles. Some data suggests that by 2040 sales of plug-in electric vehicles will account for 35 percent of all new light vehicle sales.