One of the best things a person can do to reduce their carbon footprint is to use a zero-emission electric vehicle (EV) instead of a vehicle with a fossil fuel-based internal combustion engine (ICE).
The next best option to an EV for low-emission driving is a hybrid. Electric vehicles, hybrids, and plug-in hybrids all help to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions from one of the biggest causes of climate change on the planet - ICE automobiles.
Plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) have internal combustion engines but also have electric motors. Blended and flex-fuel PHEVs run on both ICE and electric motors. Extended-range PHEVs can run on their electric motors only (switching from the motor to the engine as necessary).
Standard hybrid vehicles only have internal combustion engines and use biofuel (ethanol or biodiesel), or (most likely) a biofuel-gasoline blend.
Hybrids still use combustion for power; fuel is still used (biofuel or a gasoline-biofuel blend). Fully electric vehicles (100%-EVs) run on electric motors entirely. 100%-EVs produce zero emissions.
Read more about EVs and hybrids here: Solutions to fossil fuels.
100%-EV and EV Range
Electric vehicles (EVs) drop the gas engine entirely, becoming zero-emission vehicles. Both EVs and PHEV produce zero tailpipe pollution when running on electricity; however many PHEVs will switch to a gasoline engine when the range of the vehicle (capacity of the vehicle's battery) is reached. The 100%-EV has no gas engine at all, only an electric motor.
The higher the capacity of the battery in the EV, the higher the range (and also the initial cost) of the vehicle. Although EVs emit no tailpipe pollutants, it remains important that the source for the energy from the grid that charges the vehicle’s battery remains green (i.e. renewable energy) as well.
"EV range" based on a full charge for an electric vehicle refers to the distance an EV can travel on a fully charged battery. Most EVs on a full charge will last at least a couple of days or even a few days, for standard driving (standard driving is about 20-90 miles/ day).
Tesla's Models X, 3, and S are three of the longest-range EVs in the U.S. at 295, 310, and 335 miles, respectively (as of 2019). In the United States, Tesla also represents the most popular new car sales in the luxury sedan category.
***Update as of 2022 - the median range for EVs is about 250 miles. Tesla still holds some top spots for EV range, but there are other long-range vehicles on the market, and models X, 3, and S have all increased in range (other long-range EVs include Ford, BMW, others, and even a long-range GMC Hummer).
The top 10 long-range vehicles as of 2022:
10. 2022 Rivian R1S: 316 Miles
9. 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning: 320 Miles
8. 2022 BMW iX: 324 Miles
7. 2022 GMC Hummer EV: 329 Miles
6. 2022 Tesla Model Y: 330 Miles
5. 2022 Tesla Model X: 348 Miles
4. 2022 Mercedes EQS: 350 Miles
3. 2022 Tesla Model 3: 358 Miles
2. 2022 Tesla Model S: 405 Miles
1. 2022 Lucid Air: 520 Miles [FROM - caranddriver.com/ev-longest-driving-range]
EVs take numerous forms and then compete in the mass auto-sales market against standard gas and diesel vehicles. Standard fuel-efficient diesel vehicles used to be the most popular type of efficient automobile for new car sales in Europe. EVs and PHEVs are the more popular new car sales in the EU, and throughout Europe, than just standard efficient diesel cars or hybrids in Europe. EVs are already popular throughout Asia as well. IN THE UNITED STATES, EVS ARE JUST STARTING TO GAIN THE POPULARITY SEEN IN EUROPE AND ASIA..
The EU is set to ban sales of new ICE cars starting in 2035. In addition, cities worldwide are starting to phase out ICE vehicles from new sales and city roads. Hybrid, PHEV, and EV sales are expected to continue to increase steadily in the US, EU, China, and throughout the rest of the world.
Please also see: Sustainable Transportation
Benefits of EVs and Hybrids
100%-EVs are the more environmentally friendly choice (as they produce zero emissions), however, hybrid vehicles do also have increased gas mileage compared to standard vehicles while lowering CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) associated with vehicle use.
The benefits of hybrid cars include a variety of short-term and long-term financial savings, even above and beyond savings on gas due to the increased fuel efficiency of hybrids. For example, the purchase of hybrid vehicles, PHEVs, and EVs often includes manufacturer and retailer incentives and rebates, in addition to state and federal tax incentives (especially for plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles).
EVs and hybrids offer long-term savings such as lower maintenance costs, in addition to increased fuel efficiency, and decreased cost to run the vehicle. EVs and hybrids are also much better for the environment than conventional ICE vehicles, generating much less pollution. EVs also offer a vastly better driving experience than ICE vehicles and reduce noise pollution.
EVs and some hybrid vehicles offer features with advantages over standard cars. Typical features include regenerative braking, electric motor drive/ assist, and automatic start/ shutoff.
Regenerative braking refers to energy produced from braking and coasting that’s normally wasted, which is instead stored in a battery until needed by the motor. During electric motor drive/ assist, the electric motor kicks into gear, providing additional torque for such things as hill-climbing, passing, or quickly accelerating.
Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles
PHEVs have high-capacity batteries and charge by plugging into the grid, storing enough electricity to significantly reduce gas use. PHEVs typically use anywhere from 30% to 60% less gas than a vehicle with only an internal combustion engine.
There are two basic types of PHEVs: extended-range electric vehicles and blended plug-in hybrids.
Whereas a blended PHEV simply combines an electric motor and a gas engine, extended-range PHEVs work by having only the electric motor turn the wheels; and can run on electricity only until the gasoline engine is needed to generate electricity to recharge the battery that powers the electric motor (or the gas engine can be eliminated entirely, on short rides).
Blended and flex-fuel PHEVs work by still having both the gas engine and the electric motor connected to the wheels, both propelling the vehicle most of the time.
Low Emission Zones (LEZ)
Owning an electric vehicle helps car owners when facing vehicle emission-based levy systems such as London's congestion charge (C-charge). Zero-emission vehicles are often exempted from fees in LEZ around the world.
Following London's lead, there are already mandated and implemented charges for polluting fossil fuel-based vehicles, and low emission vehicle zones, in France, Norway; and in major cities throughout the world.
Even New York City is in the process of mandating levies on vehicles with high polluting tailpipe emissions, to create an ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) in the city. The proposed NYC ULEZ is to be modeled after London's ULEZ.
Vehicles in the United States typically consume about 9 million barrels of gasoline per day (a rough estimate of all vehicles' gas use in the U.S. per day). The U.S. transportation sector accounts for about 29% of the GHGs produced by the U.S. domestically; with about 60% of those GHG emissions just coming from passenger vehicles.
Increased adoption and use of hybrid vehicles and EVs will decrease gasoline use, increase efficiency (both the cost- and fuel-efficiency) of vehicles on the road, reduce transportation-related GHGs, and improve air quality; thus improving overall public health, and even the financial well-being, of drivers in general.
Cities will derive the same set of benefits from implementing LEZ, as Manhattan is in the process of doing, in order to make roads greener and cleaner. The new NYC ULEZ and C-charge are modeled after similar initiatives in London.
Norway, Germany, the UK, France, and Denmark, are great examples of countries where EVs, and PHEVs, are taking off.
Also, please click here for information about the congestion charge in Oslo, Norway, and the attempts to eliminate fossil-fuel vehicles from the streets of Oslo.
Please see Green City Times' article on Crit'Air in France. Crit'Air is a program that is designed to encourage greater use of low or zero-emission vehicles in France by mandating that vehicles in Crit'Air zones throughout France have fuel-efficiency related color-coded stickers on their windshields. Crit'Air stickers identify the fuel efficiency (or lack thereof) of vehicles; and are priced higher for more polluting vehicles, according to a vehicle's tailpipe emissions test results.
Please also see: London (and the congestion charge in London)
GCT Featured Articles
Oslo, Norway – Eco-Capital
Oslo: Net Zero Future | Oslo has fleets of clean mass public transit - trams, electric buses and ferries - powered...Read Post
Regenerative agriculture creates carbon sinks; turning farms into healthy ecosystems that sequester carbon with plentiful...Read Post
Sustainable City – CHICAGO
Chicago might not be widely known as a green city, however, the city has a vast network of sustainable mass public transit...Read Post
Vauban and the Plus-Energy Sun Ship
Vauban is an exemplary sustainable town and a zero-emission district. Most energy for buildings is from rooftop solar...Read Post
Climate Solution – Sustainable Agriculture
Benefits of Sustainable Agriculture | Sustainable ag. turns farms into thriving biodiverse lands that produce...Read Post
Austin, Texas – A Sustainable City
Eco-friendly Capital | Austin is emerging as a leader in renewable energy, community solar, and LEED building efficiency...Read Post
12+ Ways You Can Help the Environment
Lower your carbon footprint, save energy, and help the environment. Here are 12+ actions for sustainable individuals:...Read Post
10 Ways to Reduce Food Waste
by Jane Marsh | Significant amounts of food waste originate from cities. Urbanites can use food waste reduction methods...Read Post
Modern Sustainable Waste Management Technologies
5 Ways for SMART Cities to Implement Sustainable Waste Management | by Jane Marsh | Cities are implementing zero-waste...Read Post
5 Categories of Change in Climate
Climate change is adversely affecting all parts of the earth. There have been dramatic increases in greenhouse gas emissions...Read Post
10 IoT and Sustainability Technologies for Smart Cities
Technologies Benefit Sustainable Smart Cities | by Jane Marsh | As the conversation around greenhouse gas emissions...Read Post
Profiles in Sustainable Cities – San Diego, California
Sustainable cities, like San Diego, have eco-city designs that prioritize consideration of social, economic, and environmental...Read Post
Offshore Wind Farms in the United States | Block Island Leads the Way
First of many US offshore wind farms | The United States' 1st operational offshore wind farm is the Block Island...Read Post
Clean Energy Jobs are UP, and RE cost is down
Clean Energy JOBS | The future of employment in the energy sector is in clean energy, energy efficiency, and renewable...Read Post
Using Technology to Provide Clean Water to Cities
How Technology Can Help Cities Avoid Another Flint Water Crisis | Article by Jane Marsh | The green movement is influencing...Read Post
How Safe & Clean is Nuclear ☢️ Energy?
When looking at climate solutions for clean energy generation, it is prudent to look at all clean energy sources. Nuclear...Read Post
Kamuthi Solar Project, Bhadla Solar Park; and the largest solar PV farms in India, China, and other countries
Featuring over 2.5 million individual solar PV modules, and on 2,500 acres, the Kamuthi Solar Power Project supplies...Read Post
Microgrids spread across Africa
Developing Microgrids | As African nations push for rural electrification, many look to microgrids as a sustainable...Read Post
Future Generations of Batteries
Next generation li-ion batteries | Next-gen lithium-ion (li-ion) batteries can charge quickly, are rechargeable,...Read Post
Clean Hydrogen Power
Hydrogen (H2) and the Clean Energy Transition | Hydrogen created with clean energy is one of the most promising...Read Post
Nuclear – necessary energy
Both nuclear and renewable energy are needed in the global energy mix to help fight climate change. In order to cut...Read Post
COP21 – good news for the planet
NDCs and Net Zero Pledges | At COP21, commonly referred to as the Paris Climate Accord, nations sent representatives...Read Post
Plan for the Expansion of Smart Meter Infrastructure
Modern SMART Meters | Many buildings in America today still rely on inefficient energy infrastructure, such as older...Read Post
Recycling – how we are doing as a global community; waste-to-energy
Effective waste management strategies for cities include citywide recycling programs, circular economy strategies, as...Read Post
Permanent ban on new coal mines and other sustainability priorities
Strategies for mitigating climate change | What are the best strategies for mitigating global warming? How is the...Read Post
10 Sustainable Technologies Improving Air Quality in Cities
GREEN Tech for Healthy Air | Article by Jane Marsh | Cities are the heart of every global region. They are headquarters...Read Post
Shortfall in International GHG Reduction Pledges
Is the World Going to Meet its Climate Targets? There is a substantial shortfall between GHG emission reduction pledges...Read Post
The Global Fight Against Climate Change; NDCs and Net Zero Targets Worldwide
Nationally Determined Contributions | As part of the ongoing global battle against climate change, almost 200 countries...Read Post
Breakthroughs in Solar Photovoltaic (PV) and Solar Thermal Technology
Solar - the most abundant renewable energy on the planet | Recently there have been dramatic breakthroughs in solar...Read Post
Renewable Energy – Breakthroughs in Wind Energy
Onshore Wind Farms - Cheap and Clean Energy | Onshore wind farms now provide the least expensive form of energy, renewable...Read Post
Economy vs. the Environment
Economic growth does not have to come at the expense of the environment. Sustainable technologies (such as renewable...Read Post
Desalination – Clean Water for a Thirsty World
The two desalination plants featured below; one in Carlsbad (San Diego county, California - featured photo), and one...Read Post
10 Countries Promoting the use of Electric Vehicles (EVs)
Why Is There A Need For EVs Globally? In its World Energy Outlook, the International Energy Agency identifies pathways...Read Post
Smart City Energy Infrastructure
Updating Infrastructure for Developing Renewable Energy in Cities | People-centered smart cities are cropping up worldwide....Read Post
EVs and the Future of Urban Transit
Electric Vehicle (EV) Infrastructure | What will be done to develop electric vehicle infrastructure? With cars that...Read Post
The Role of E-mobility Trends in Decarbonizing Transport
Decarbonizing the Transportation Sector with E-mobility | It's no secret that transportation is a major source of...Read Post
Putting a Price on Carbon
Carbon Markets | Carbon cap and trade systems are regulatory policies in which countries, provinces, states, and even...Read Post
Deforestation and solutions; including reforestation | Deforestation of our planet, for centuries, has led to issues...Read Post
UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – Conference of the Parties | World leaders, dignitaries,...Read Post
Carbon tax – a levy on pollution whose time has come
Defining effective carbon taxes | A carbon tax is a levy in countries and regions on: fossil fuel power plants, oil...Read Post
Improving energy efficiency
Energy Efficiency Foundations for Green Building: Energy Star, LED and CFL Lights, LEED technologies When it comes to...Read Post
Decoupling and Divestment to Reach Sustainability
Economic Growth Without Environmental Impact Decoupling in eco-environmental terms can be defined as economic growth...Read Post
ISEGS – A Shining Example of Concentrated Solar Power (CSP)
Ivanpah Solar Electrical Generating System (ISEGS) Ivanpah Solar Electrical Generating System (ISEGS) is a 392 MW solar concentrated...Read Post
Car-sharing and Ride-hailing
Sustainable Commuting | Many ride-sharing fleets are converting to electric cars. Car-sharing (a.k.a. ride-sharing)...Read Post
California – Current Progress of a Climate Champion
Learning From California's Struggle to Balance Decarbonization With Energy Resilience | Since California passed the...Read Post
A Close Look at San Diego’s HERO Program
San Diego, Green Buildings, HERO Program | The importance of green energy for use in homes and businesses is becoming...Read Post