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Electric Vehicles Are Getting Marginally Better, In A Big Way

Where does electricity come from? When you flip a light switch on, you’re getting electricity from somewhere—maybe a spinning gas turbine, or maybe a battery storing excess electricity generated by wind or solar power. When you flip the light switch off, the grid responds by shifting its sources around, ensuring everyone connected is receiving a steady flow of electrons. Read More

Categories: Vehicles  

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The Facts Haven’t Changed: EVs Clean and Getting Cleaner

A new working paper by a team of economists has recently been characterized as showing that electric vehicles (EVs) are worse than gasoline vehicles (for example: “Electric Cars: Not So Environmentally Friendly After All?”). On the one hand, this study reiterates what we and others have said: plug-in electric vehicles have greater air quality and global warming emissions benefits when they are charged using sources of electricity cleaner than coal, like natural gas or renewables like wind and solar. Unfortunately, however, the authors’ conclusions that EVs are worse than gasoline vehicles are based on questionable assumptions about electricity sources, air pollution sources, and vehicle characteristics that bias their overall results against electric vehicles. Read More

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Interview with Harvard’s James Stock: Navigating a Sensible Middle Path Forward on the Renewable Fuel Standard

Earlier this month I had the chance to sit down with Professor James Stock of Harvard University to discuss the future of biofuels and the key federal policy governing them, the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS).

Professor Stock served as a member of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisors in 2013 and 2014. He was deeply involved in deliberations about the RFS during his tenure, and it was in that context that I first met him, back in October 2013, when I went to the White House to offer perspective on how best to implement the RFS. Read More

Categories: Biofuel, Vehicles  

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Automakers Piloting the Reuse Market for EV Batteries

What happens when the batteries from electric vehicles (EVs) are no longer usable? We could throw them away, sure, but there are other options, including reuse and recycling. Several automakers are piloting efforts in these areas, with promising results. Read More

Categories: Vehicles  

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Green Guilt, Really? A Response to Slate’s Daniel Gross and the Concept of Green Privilege

Slate contributor Daniel Gross suffers from a bad case of green guilt. Not to be confused with Catholic or Jewish guilt, green guilt arises from green privilege, which Gross defines as having access to public benefits that “flow almost exclusively to individuals who are already well off and don’t need the help.”

The most glaring example of green privilege, Gross argues, is the $7,500 federal tax credit for electric vehicles (EVs). Not only are federal and state tax credits for EVs helping yuppies save money on fuel and reduce their emissions, but Gross’s town of Westport, Connecticut is allowing EV drivers to get preferential parking at train stations too. Oh the horror! Someone get this guy a gas guzzler and a crappy parking spot, stat! Read More

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Making Clean Cars Easier to Buy in California

Electric cars reduce both oil use and global warming emissions and are cheaper to operate than gasoline-powered vehicles. However, electric cars can cost more to buy than a conventional vehicle, and this initial outlay can prevent cars buyers from choosing a vehicle that is both a greener choice and will save money in the long run.

Now California is poised to make buying electric vehicles an option for more people through new investments and incentive programs. Read More

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The New Electric Car from KIA: Review of a 2015 Kia Soul EV Test Drive

If you’re looking for a new car, you’ve got to test drive an electric vehicle (EV). Just do it. Sure, you can read about how EVs provide instant torque, are cleaner and cheaper to drive than gas vehicles, and can fit the needs of 42 percent of American drivers, but the best way to understand the allure of an EV is to go drive one.

I recently took the 2015 Kia Soul EV home for lunch, and was amazed at how much I enjoyed driving on electricity. I’ve previously driven several EVs, but never alone, and never for an extended period of time. Having the Soul EV for a couple hours allowed me to better understand what, exactly, it would be like to own an EV – and I loved every minute of it. Read More

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8 Ways Science Can Save Gas On Your Summer Road Trip

With the end of the school year upon us, no doubt many of you are embarking on one of my favorite activities: the road trip. Even with gas prices under $3 per gallon, the prospect of shelling out well over $100 in fuel will have anyone trying to use a few gallons less. Here at UCS, we are always thinking about ways to save fuel. Having driven cross-country a number of times—and worked as a physicist and vehicles analyst—here are a few tips I use to save fuel: Read More

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Big Rigs, Big Benefits; How Strong Rules Will Clean Up the Road

Tractor trailers go about six miles on a gallon of diesel, a number that has barely budged since the 1970’s. This shocked me the first time I heard it, and I imagine that many of you have the same reaction. After all, so many other products—passenger cars, light bulbs, refrigerators—are so much more efficient now, why not trucks? The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way. Read More

Categories: Global Warming, Vehicles  

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New National Academies Study Says EPA and NHTSA Got it Right

A new report from the National Academies’ National Research Council (NRC) was released this morning. The overarching message of the report reiterates what we have said repeatedly:  Automakers are well on their way to meeting 2025 standards, and they will do so primarily with efficient conventional vehicles. Read More

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