Drive Electric NYC

Good for Society

Are Electric Cars Good for Society?

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.

Brooklyn Bridge Park

Carbon 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.

Oil independence:
It’s estimated that New Yorkers buy over 380,000 gallons of gasoline per year. Electric cars would dramatically reduce that amount, as the energy sources for New York City are primarily natural gas, hydropower, nuclear, and increasingly, renewables.

Electric grid reliability:
New Yorkers understandably worry that these vehicles will overwhelm our electric system. According to the book The Works, New York's power comes through "the world's largest underground electric cable system." Over 80,000 miles of electric cable live under the city. Thankfully, electric vehicles are not going to push us over the edge. Con Edison and the Mayor's Office of Long-term Planning and Sustainability looked at how the grid would react to both low and high electric vehicle adoption. The analysis looked at each borough's expected 2018 load with and without electric vehicles. Long-story short, if most drivers charge mostly at night, the grid will be fine. The City and Con Edison are working on discounts that will make that happen.

Urban noise:
Because they lack pounding pistons they reduce vehicle noise, especially at city speeds.

Urban heat:
Only about 15% of the energy in gasoline gets converted into motion. Much of the rest is lost as waste heat-one of the reasons it's sometimes possible to fry an egg on the hood of a car. Electric vehicles use the energy in their batteries much more efficiently and create less heat, welcome news for pedestrians walking next to a grid locked street.

Truck congestion


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