EV Emissions Savings Miscalculation

EV Emissions Savings Miscalculation: Lower Use Offsets Environmental Benefits

A recent study shows that owners of electric vehicles drive fewer miles compared to owners of gas vehicles, resulting in less emission reduction from EVs. Researchers at George Washington University have found that the emissions reduction benefits of electric vehicles may be exaggerated.

Modelers and regulatory bodies, including the EPA, have assumed that electric vehicle owners drive their cars as much as owners of gas vehicles.


Researchers at GW and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory conducted a study on EV mileage using odometer data from 12.9 million used cars and 11.9 million used SUVs between 2016 and 2022. They discovered that battery electric vehicles were driven about 4,500 fewer miles per year compared to gas cars.

According to the study, electric cars traveled an average of 7,165 miles per year, while gas-powered cars traveled 11,642 miles per year. Similarly, electric SUVs traveled 10,587 miles annually compared to gas-powered SUVs, which traveled 12,945 miles each year.

In a study comparing Tesla electric vehicles (EVs) to other EVs and conventional gas cars, researchers found that Teslas were driven more than other EVs but still less than gas cars. The study also showed that plug-in hybrid and hybrid vehicles were driven similarly to gas cars.

The findings of this study question the current assumptions made by policymakers and regulators about the distance people are driving their electric vehicles, which has implications for the development of emissions regulations.

To accurately predict emissions savings from electric vehicle adoption, it is crucial to consider the amount of driving that will be done. Overestimating mileage can lead to overstating emissions reductions. It is important to study not only the demographics of EV owners but also their driving habits, such as which trips they are replacing with cleaner EV trips and which trips they are not taking at all.

Reference- Journal Joule, Inside EVs, Clean Technica, The Verge, The Guardian