2017 was another year of growth for electric vehicles. Nearly 200,000 electric vehicles were sold in the U.S. last year, up 25% from the year before, even as sales of traditional gas powered vehicles declined. And for first time, global EV sales in 2017 crossed the 1 million mark. 2018 is already on track to outpace sales from last year with January and February sales up more than 10% from a year ago. Sales are likely to accelerate as new models are released, consumer awareness increases and the EV charging infrastructure continues to expand. There are now over 40 plug-in vehicles to choose from (though automakers only offer most of them in a handful of states) and most major automakers have promised additional offerings in the near future.
It’s no surprise why more consumers are choosing an electric vehicle. On average, EVs cost the equivalent of just over $1 a gallon to recharge, less than half the costs of gas today. With significantly fewer moving parts and no need for oil, all-electric vehicles are much easier and cheaper to maintain than gas-powered engines.
EVs also emit significantly less pollution than gas vehicles and will run even cleaner in the future. Most EVs currently rely on the existing electric grid, with its mix of clean and dirty power sources that varies depending on where you live. On average, charging an EV produces 60 percent less harmful global warming pollution than operating a gas powered vehicle in the U.S., and over 85 percent less in areas with the cleanest electricity, like the Washington, Maine, New York and California. Pollution will further decrease as the grid continues to move toward cleaner, renewable power like wind and solar. And of course, EVs have no tailpipes to spew harmful emissions locally, so EVs provide added public health benefits in areas with high vehicle density.
And it’s not just personal vehicles that are getting electrified. The transportation system as a whole is moving in the direction of electrification, funded in part by nearly $3 billion in penalties from Volkswagen as part of a settlement stemming from the company’s diesel cheating scandal. As a result, communities across the country are exploring electric buses as part of their public transit systems, as well as replacing outdated diesel school buses with electric ones. There is already competition among manufacturers to lead on electric semis for commercial use, which will further reduce harmful pollution on our nation’s highways. Moving toward electrification is a win-win: fleet vehicles benefit from lower maintenance and operating costs, savings that can be passed on to consumers, and society will benefit from cleaner air.
If you are thinking about buying an EV, check out Consumer Report’s comprehensive guide to electric and hybrid vehicles. And if you are not sure if an EV can fit in your life, our quiz can help you understand if an EV is right for you.