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USA: Should I buy an electric car?

It depends on where you live, says a new report, because some states force you to charge up from a dirty coal grid. But that’s just a snapshot, and the long-term outlook favors EVs.
Fri, Apr 27 2012 at 11:55 AM EST 4

FIND YOUR STATE: Dark green states are the most EV-friendly; bright green means some, but not all EVs are the best choice; and light green is not favorable to electric. (Climate Central graphic)
Does an electric car make sense for you? Well, it may depend on where you live. If the smokestack from your local power plant is emitting coal fumes, chances are the planet would be happier if you were in a hybrid. That’s according to a new Climate Central report that analyzes the grid across the U.S. and provides a map of states where plug-in cars will work best.

“In 36 states,” the report says, “the hybrid electric Toyota Prius produces less greenhouse gas pollution than the all-electric Nissan Leaf, because when you plug in a Leaf to recharge, you are tapping into electricity generated largely by burning coal and natural gas in those states.”

According to the report, “Coal is the largest contributor to the high carbon footprint of our electrical grid today.” In high coal states, “driving a Leaf is responsible for much more greenhouse gas emissions per mile (about 0.9 pounds) than a Prius (about 0.5 pounds)….The Leaf does best in states that rely heavily on nuclear, like Connecticut (0.3 pounds), or on hydropower, like Idaho or Washington (0.1 pounds). It isn’t only the Prius that out-performs the Leaf. In the 10 states with the most carbon-polluting electricity generation, there are 20 cars that are better for the climate than the Leaf; 13 of them are gas-powered vehicles with conventional engines. The rest are gas-powered hybrids.”

The Prius does better than the Leaf in 36 states, the report says. Even the conventionally powered Hyundai Accent beats the Leaf in 12 states.


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