What If One of Your Cars was Electric?
Like laptops and cell phones, electric vehicles (EVs) operate on electricity stored in a rechargeable battery. Electricity is the fuel. EVs typically have lower annual fuel costs than similar gasoline vehicles and provide both a similar driving experience to and the same functionality as a gasoline vehicle.1 They also have no tailpipe emissions (in fact, they don’t even have a tailpipe!). Research suggests that many households, especially those with multiple cars, may be able to use an EV in place of a gasoline car with little or no change to their driving habits. Current surveys show that 96% of multi-car households travel, on average, fewer miles per day on all of their cars together than the typical EV range available today.2 Just over half of households drive less than 50 miles per day, which is well under the shortest range available for new EV models.3 What if every multi-car household swapped either their primary or secondary car for an EV?
What’s the bottom line?
Multi-car homes adopting electric vehicles could save up to:
- $72 billion in fuel costs per year
- 320 million metric tons of CO2 per year (equal to 36.5 million US homes’ annual energy use)
Switching one of your cars to an all-electric model could have an impact on both your wallet and the environment.
There are 68 million multi-car homes in the US. If these households switched one of their main cars to an EV, they could collectively save $36–72 billion in annual fuel costs.4 Even when accounting for power plant emissions, this switch could reduce greenhouse gases by an estimated 160–320 million metric tons per year.5 This is comparable to the amount of energy used by 18 to 36 million homes each year. As more electricity is generated from renewable sources like wind or solar, future emissions savings could be higher.
What would it be like?
Most of us are used to swinging by the gas station when our car’s fuel light goes on. With an EV, you have more options for refueling:
- Notice your charge is low as you head home for the evening? Pull up to your house, plug in and, when you wake up, your car is ready to go. Learn more about EV Charging.
- Or maybe you notice your low charge on your way to work the next day. You could pull into the lot and charge your car at one of the EV charger spots offered by your employer.
- If you don’t have charging available during the day or at home, you can look for one of the thousands of public charging stations to top off.
Switching one of your main cars to an EV could save your household approximately $500–$1,000 on fuel costs per year. EVs also tend to have lower maintenance costs than gasoline cars, which also reduces ownership costs.7
The emissions associated with your EV will vary depending on where you live, because electricity emissions vary depending on how that electricity was generated. For example, charging a typical EV8 in Grand Rapids, MI, is estimated to emit 190 g CO2/mile versus 90 g/mile in Boise, ID. To see emissions in your area, visit the Beyond Tailpipe Emissions Calculator.
How far can an EV go?
Many of the newest EV models can go over 200 miles on a fully charged battery, and some even above 300.6 As technology continues to improve, EV range is likely to grow and prices to fall.
- Current EV models may not be able to meet certain needs like heavy towing or transporting more than five passengers, but options continue to expand. Multiple automakers have announced plans for electric pickup trucks and other vehicle categories that can meet these needs. See a full list of available models at www.fueleconomy.gov.
- There may be some days when your travel needs exceed your EV’s range or capabilities. You may need to switch your EV to another household gasoline vehicle or rent a car for that day.
- Only have one car at home? You might still be able to use an EV; 9 out of 10 of single car households travel 70 miles or less per day. If not, you could try a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV), which can run on gasoline as well as electricity.
- How you drive your vehicle and the driving conditions, including hot and cold weather, affect the range of an electric vehicle; for instance, researchers found range on average could decrease about 40% due to cold temperatures and the use of heat.9
With the options for EVs expanding every day, are you ready to plug into a lower-emissions lifestyle?
For more information, see epa.gov/greenvehicles.
2 National Household Travel Survey (2017); https://nhts.ornl.gov/. Calculations done for household travel days ≤200 miles (using the unadjusted trip data), as the majority of Model Year 2020 BEVs have a range ≥200 miles (Fuel Economy Guide Model Year 2020; https://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/pdfs/guides/FEG2020.pdf).
3 The shortest range available for a MY 2020 BEV is 110 miles.
4 Assumes $2.70/gal gasoline, $0.130/kWh electricity, and 27 MPG for gasoline cars being displaced (Fuel Economy Guidance Letter Model Year 2021; https://iaspub.epa.gov/otaqpub/display_file.jsp?docid=48433&flag=1).Assumes EV fuel consumption of 0.30 kWh/mile. Average annual mileage by household vehicle and household count is from NHTS, 2017, using BESTMILE estimate for travel only in vehicle types 1–5 (sedans, SUVs, and pickup and other trucks). We assume that when travel day or trip needs extend beyond the household EV’s range, the driver will be able to either use one of the household’s gasoline vehicles or will be willing to rent a vehicle.
5 Assumes US average electricity emissions = 473 g CO2/kWh as delivered (including upstream), and gasoline emissions = 8,887 g CO2/gallon (tailpipe) multiplied by 1.25 (upstream factor) based on methodology described here: https://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/label/calculations-information.shtml
6 Residential charging. See assumptions in footnote #4.
8 Assumed efficiency of 0.30 kWh/mi (median of Model Year 2020 BEVs).