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Why it's important

Gasoline-powered vehicles produce CO2 and we need to stop that and still be able to go get groceries, get to work, and visit friends from out of town. While driving less is better, when we do drive, we need to be driving better vehicles. Not only will it reduce emissions, but it could also end up saving you money in the long run.

The number of vehicles in the world is going to increase 60% by 2030
It is estimated that the number of vehicles in the world is going to increase 60% by 2030. In China alone, increasing numbers of vehicles could lead to an increase in oil demand of 33% by 2015. It is going to be very important to figure out ways to drastically reduce emissions from driving.

Passenger vehicles and light-duty trucks, which could readily be converted to electric vehicles, account for almost 2/3 of US transportation emissions.Credit: US EPA
There are a number of alternatives being proposed to gasoline vehicles including ethanol, compressed natural gas, and hydrogen fuel cells, but electricity is currently looking like the way to go. Ethanol and compressed natural gas both of issues of distributing the fuel source, whereas most places where there are cars are also near outlets. Ethanol needs to be consumed near its source of production for it to be competitive with the emissions of gasoline, and even then, they are only marginally, if at all better. Compressed natural gas (CNG), relies on a whole new type of vehicle, similar to electric vehicles, with the difference being that the major automakers are investing in electricity. Finally, hydrogen fuel cells are a means of storing energy, like batteries, and not a means of powering a vehicle on its own. In the end, there is a lot to be said for the fact that we will have plug-in hybrid vehicles on the market in the next year. Yes, ethanol could be better if it is so-called 2nd generation ethanol, but that is years off from large scale production. Right now, you are better off having electric vehicles and burning the biomass used for ethanol to make electricity. Its possible that better technologies will appear in the future, but electricity is looking pretty good and it is reasonable to expect it to make a big impact soon. If you would like to learn more about electric vehicles vs. some of these other options, check out the FAQ page.

This is the most promising technology in terms of lowering the overall impact of personal vehicles in the long term. As you can see below, the amount of green house gas emissions resulting from transportation is very high, but with electrical vehicle technologies, that number could drop immediately and continue to go down further as the electrical grid becomes cleaner. Even with the current, dirty electrical grid, electric vehicles will power vehicles for under $1/gallon equivalent, produce fewer emissions than gasoline, and reduce petroleum imports by over 50%. In a study by GM, it was found that on the current (Summer 2009) California energy grid, if the car was charged daily and driven less than 100 miles a day, a PHEV reduced fuel consumption by 70% and CO2 emissions by 40% over a regular hybrid. And these numbers will only get better as the electrical grid becomes more clean. Plug-in vehicles also allow for the potential for optimizing utility grid by running the grid to charge at off-peak hours, such as overnight, and using vehicles as storage for peak hour supply and supply during outages.
Up next: Where we are
Green Car Congress - GM and PHEV, EV energy reductions
GM quantified the energy and emissions reductions from full hybrids, PHEVs, and EVs.
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Green Car Congress - China's Oil Demand and Vehicle Usage
Study found that increasing demand for vehicles in China could result in a 33% increase in oil demand.
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Green Car Congress - Bioelectricity better than Ethanol Biofuels
Study finds that you are essentially better off burning ethanol feedstocks and using that electricity to power electric cars than creating ethanol.
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CalCars: The California Cars Initiative
PHEV info from The California Cars Initiative
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CalCars: The California Cars Initiative
PHEV info from The California Cars Initiative
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Institute for the Analysis of Global Security
Plug-In Hybrid Info
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Green Car Congress - GM and PHEV, EV energy reductions
GM quantified the energy and emissions reductions from full hybrids, PHEVs, and EVs.
Click now to view
Impacts Assessment of Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles on Electric Utilities and Regional U.S. Power Grids
2007 Pacific Northwest National Laboratory Report Scott MJ, MCW Kintner-Meyer, DB Elliott, and WM Warwick. 2007. "Economic Assessment and Impacts Assessment of Plug-In Hybrid Vehicles on Electric Utilities And Regional U.S. Power Grids." Online Journal of EUEC 1:paper #5.
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NREL Plug-ins
NREL PHEV Info
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