Environmental Benefits

Plug-in electric vehicles can help keep your town and your world clean. In general, EVs produce fewer emissions that contribute to climate change and smog than conventional vehicles.

There are two general categories of vehicle emissions: direct and life cycle.

Direct emissions are emitted through the tailpipe, through evaporation from the fuel system, and during the fueling process. Direct emissions include smog-forming pollutants (such as nitrogen oxides), other pollutants harmful to human health, and greenhouse gases (GHGs), primarily carbon dioxide. All-electric vehicles produce zero direct emissions, which specifically helps improve air quality in urban areas. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), which have a gasoline engine in addition to an electric motor, produce evaporative emissions from the fuel system as well as tailpipe emissions when operating on gasoline. However, because most PHEVs are more efficient than comparable conventional vehicles, they still produce fewer tailpipe emissions even when relying on gasoline.

Life cycle emissions include all emissions related to fuel and vehicle production, processing, distribution, use, and recycling/disposal. For example, for a conventional gasoline vehicle, emissions are produced when petroleum is extracted from the ground, refined to gasoline, distributed to stations, and burned in vehicles. Like direct emissions, life cycle emissions include a variety of harmful pollutants and GHGs.

All vehicles produce substantial life cycle emissions, and calculating them is complex. However, EVs typically produce fewer life cycle emissions than conventional vehicles because most emissions are lower for electricity generation than burning gasoline or diesel. The exact amount of these emissions depends on your electricity mix, which varies by geographic location. While the U.S. national averages are above, look up your specific zip code’s electricity mix and EV emissions on the Alternative Fuels Data Center. EV drivers can further minimize their life cycle emissions by using electricity generated by non-polluting renewable sources like solar and wind. Learn how to buy renewable electricity or install it on your home at the EnergySaver site.


U.S. DOE: Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy


Clean Air & Health

IMG_20150513_134209616_HDRA fill-up of a mid-sized sedan’s 16-gallon tank of gas costs approximately $18.42 in harm due to health and climate impacts, according to the 2016 State of the Air report published by the American Lung Association.
More than half of all Americans – 166 million people – live in counties where they are exposed to unhealthy air. The transportation sector is a leading source of pollutants that threaten lung health and lead to asthma attacks, hospitalizations, emergency room visits and even early death.

All communities that suffer from unhealthy air experience health effects. However, communities located near major roadways are at increased risk of illness. Recent research concluded that exposure to traffic pollution on causes asthma attacks in children, and may cause a wide range of other effects including contributing to the onset of childhood asthma, impaired lung function, cardiovascular impacts and premature death.

To learn more about the air quality in your state, visit the American Lung Association’s website.


American Lung Association
State of the Air Report 2016


Saving Fuel

Chicago Gas Station PhotoPlug-in electric vehicles can save you money, with much lower fuel costs on average than conventional gasoline vehicles.

Because the average U.S. household spends nearly one-fifth of its total family expenditures on transportation, saving on fuel can make a big difference in terms of the average family’s budget. Electricity is less expensive than gasoline and EVs are more efficient than gasoline vehicles.

To calculate how much you can save, go to this calculator.



U.S. DOE: Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy