A new study released by the Union of Concerned Scientists shows that from manufacture to scrapping, or recycling, an electric car in California creates less greenhouse gas emissions than even the most efficient gasoline powered vehicle.
Even when emissions from power plants which supply the electricity for the cars are taken into consideration, an electric car produces pollution equivalent to a theoretical conventional car that has a fuel economy of 84 miles per gallon.
Data for the study was collated from information from the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Energy, the Argonne National Laboratory and from auto manufacturers.
The scientific group based its testing model on the two best selling electric cars in the U.S., the Nissan Leaf and Tesla Model S.
The group collated all greenhouse gas emissions from every aspect of automobile manufacturing and operations and found that in every region of the U.S., electric vehicles beat their gasoline counterparts.
The electric vehicles best results - a pollution output equal to a conventional vehicle that gets 135 mpg - was in upstate New York, which has an abundance of renewable energy resources.
The report says electric cars offered the least pollution reduction - the equivalent of a 35 to 36 mpg car - in central states such as Kansas, Missouri and Kansas, because most of the electricity in those states comes from coal, a fossil fuel.
The report's lead author, Rachael Nealer, says that although an electric powered vehicle has no tailpipe emissions, the total emissions from operating it are "not insignificant" as they "depend on the sources of the electricity that charge the vehicle’s batteries and on the efficiency of the vehicle."
Nationally, electric powered vehicles produce less than half the global warming emissions of gasoline-powered vehicles. Nealer expects the emissions profile of electric cars to continue to improve along with technology advances and when electricity generation becomes cleaner.
“It is really impressive how much cleaner electric cars have become in just the last three years,” she says.