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Rachael Nealer

About the author: Rachael Nealer is an engineer and Kendall Science Fellow exploring the lifecycle environmental impacts of advanced vehicles, specifically hybrid-electric, plug-in electric, and fuel cell vehicles. See Rachael's full bio.

What Would a Bike-only World Look Like?

Ever wonder what it would be like if only bicycles were on the roads? I spent a week in July biking across Iowa for an event called RAGBRAI where thousands of cyclists ride just over 400 miles across the state. While biking I began thinking about how our world would be different if bikes, not cars, were the norm. Read More

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How Clean are Electric Cars? A Life Cycle Assessment of Advanced Vehicle Technologies

As electric vehicles (EVs) gain popularity in the United States and policies to encourage EV sales are implemented, significant research has been done on reductions in global warming emissions and oil use associated with operating them. This includes research published in the Union of Concerned Scientists’ report State of Charge. However, the broader impacts of EV production and recycling remain less well characterized, and are important when assessing the total environmental impact of consumer vehicle choices. Read More

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Fed up with filling up? I am!

Just the other day I was driving back to the city from the suburbs after visiting family, and was in a rush. Of course, when I’m running late to meet friends is when the gas light on my little Honda Civic Coupe turns on! Frustrated that I needed to stop for gas when I was already pressed for time, I started thinking… How much time have I spent filling up at gas stations? And why is this rarely quantified and noted as a benefit to owning an electric vehicle (EV) where you can plug in at home and often times at work? Read More

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Don’t Just Google It: UCS Answers Your Questions about EVs

On May 19th Grist reporter Ben Adler held a Google hangout with Environmental Protection Agency Administrator, Gina McCarthy, and Secretary of Energy, Ernest Moniz. The discussion with the twitter hashtag #WHClimateChat focused on questions from the audience about the President’s Climate Action Plan. Many of the questions answered by McCarthy and Moniz were about fuel economy and vehicle technologies—topics that the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) works on regularly. Read More

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What do Indy Grand Prix Winner Simon Pagenaud and Warwick High School have in common?

While some of you were watching Pagenaud win the Indianapolis Grand Prix on television, there was another (dare I say lesser known, but equally as important) Grand Prix happening at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center National Air and Space Museum near Dulles Airport outside Washington, DC: the annual Electric Vehicle Grand Prix! The Electric Vehicle (EV) Grand Prix is a competition between local high school teams who build and race custom EVs by applying what they learn in their science, engineering, and math classes. Despite some wind and rain, it was a successful event with a new reigning champion, Warwick High School. Read More

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Dear Tesla Gigafactory

Dear Tesla,

I’m excited about the recent announcement of your US-based battery manufacturing facility, which you’ve named the “gigafactory”, but I have a few concerns. The project sounds promising: you’ll be producing 500,000 electric vehicles per year by 2020, employing 6,500 people, installing new wind and solar power, and building the facility in either Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, or Arizona. But while you’re still deciding which site to pick can I offer you some advice? It’s all about location, location, location—and here’s why. Read More

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Electric Vehicle Emissions: 4 Lessons Learned from the Literature

Some people claim electric vehicles (EVs) emit more pollution than conventional vehicles, but based on what? Certainly not based on published literature. Read More

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Do EVs Matter? Four Takeaways from a Study on Electric Vehicle Emissions

A recent paper from North Carolina State University researchers posed the provocative question: “How much do electric drive vehicles matter to future U.S. emissions?” The article, published in Environmental Science & Technology, attempts to answer this question by examining the possible interactions between our national electricity and transportation system. As you can imagine, this is a complex question with an equally complicated set of answers. However, their finding that sales of electric vehicles (EVs) won’t necessarily lead to lower overall emissions has received the most attention. But does it mean electric vehicles don’t reduce emissions? No, it doesn’t: in fact one of the authors said they didn’t intend to show EVs have no impact on emissions in an interview with Slate. Read More

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What is Lifecycle Assessment—and Why Does it Matter?

Hi, I’m Rachael and I recently joined the UCS team as a Kendall Science Fellow in the Clean Vehicles group. My focus during the fellowship will be on the lifecycle impacts of advanced vehicle technologies, so first I’m going to start with a brief background on what lifecycle assessment is and why it’s important. Read More

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