For almost 100 years, we’ve relied on internal combustion engines as the primary means to move our cars. In that time, engine technology has advanced but problems like pollution and noise persist. In addition, we increasingly face new environmental and political consequences from extracting and burning fossil fuels. In the search for an alternative, the newest generation of electric cars presents one promising solution that can be part of a broader re-envisioning of our transportation system. Increased use of public transit, cycling and walking, and other alternative fuel vehicle technologies will all help reduce climate change, pollution, and oil dependence. Below are some of the potential social impacts from shifting to electric cars:
Urban air quality:
Electric cars produce little or no tailpipe emissions, which helps improve urban air quality. Despite improvements, New York City still fails to meet Federal standards for ozone levels. Unlike regular cars, electric vehicles create little or no local ozone emissions.
When recharged from the electric grid in New York City, electric cars lead to carbon emissions at power plants that supply the city. As of 2007, this amount was about 0.55 lbs of CO2e per mile. This is lower than almost any other vehicle on the road. In addition, as new wind power and other renewable generation sources power the New York City grid the carbon emissions from electric driving will decrease.
Even today, electric car owners have the option to reduce their carbon emissions to zero by recharging their vehicles directly from solar or wind power.