Environmental Implications of Electric Cars

Date of Original Version




Abstract or Description

California and the Northeast states have passed laws requiring that 2% of model year 1998 cars must be "zero emissions" vehicles- that is, electric cars (1). Required sales of electric cars are to increase after 1998. Electric vehicle technology has the advantage that it produces no air pollution at the point of use, so that if the electricity is generated in a distant place, electric cars are a means of switching the location of environmental discharges A large crowded city such as Los Angeles or New York has large amounts of discharges even if care is taken to protect the environment, because the millions of gasoline-powered vehicles in such cities emit large quantities of carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and volatile organic compounds. Electric vehicle technology can move emissions to less crowded and less polluted locations.Centralized electric generation plants may also be able to achieve fewer emissions per vehicle mile than do internal combustion engines in vehicles (2).


Published In

Science New Series, 268, 5213, 993-995.