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Adoption of Plug-in Electric Vehicles: Local Fuel Use and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reductions Across the U.S.

Adoption of Plug-in Electric Vehicles: Local Fuel Use and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reductions Across the U.S.

Full Title: Adoption of Plug-in Electric Vehicles: Local Fuel Use and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reductions Across the U.S.
Author(s): Xinyi Wu, Yan Zhou, and David Gohlke
Publisher(s): Argonne National Laboratory
Publication Date: February 1, 2024
Full Text: Download Resource
Description (excerpt):

The dependence on gasoline-powered light-duty automobiles has made U.S. households vulnerable to the burden of fuel costs. Tailpipe emissions from these vehicles constitute 58% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the U.S., which are damaging to the environment (EPA, 2023). The adoption of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) has been shown to effectively reduce fuel costs and GHG emissions. However, local effects on these benefits are not well understood by American consumers, potentially limiting adoption and therefore the realization of PEV benefits at scale (MacInnis & Krosnick, 2020; EY Americas, 2023). To fill this research gap, this study estimates the fuel cost savings and GHG emission reductions at the state and ZIP code levels by considering local fuel prices, vehicle class preference, average vehicle model year, fuel efficiencies, and driving intensities. The study’s findings reveal that the adoption of PEVs can yield substantial benefits in terms of fuel cost savings and GHG emission reductions nationwide. Specifically, driving a battery electric vehicle (BEV) is estimated to result in annual savings of up to $2,200, while driving a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) can lead to savings up to $1,500, when compared to an internal combustion engine vehicle (ICEV) of equivalent size.

Moreover, using population-weighted averages by ZIP code, BEVs and PHEVs show the potential to save 400 and 200 grams of carbon dioxide equivalent per mile, respectively, compared to a representative ICEV of the same class. The magnitude of fuel cost savings and emissions reduction vary by region due to various factors. Generally, regions with high gasoline prices, low electricity prices, preferences for larger vehicles, and high driving intensities tend to see relatively large fuel savings. The emissions reductions are more pronounced in areas with clean grids where consumer preferences lie with large vehicles. This regional variability underscores the importance of considering local contextual factors when assessing the potential benefits of PEV adoption. In more than 99% of U.S. ZIP codes, PEVs result in overall savings in fuel use (and subsequent costs) and GHG emissions. While not a central focus of this analysis, reductions in GHG tailpipe emissions from PEV adoption would also come with reductions in criteria pollutant emissions, contributing to improved local air quality depending on the PEV penetration, population density, and electricity generation infrastructure in the locality.

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