Zero Emissions, Zero Regrets

Zero Emissions, Zero Regrets

This week marks the fourth annual National Drive Electric Week, a commemoration of the many benefits electric vehicle transportation brings all of us and even a chance to test-drive an electric vehicle near you! Check out local events over the weekend in Issaquah and Steilacoom, Washington.  The week also serves as a good reminder of the progress that Western Washington (and all of the West Coast) has made in advancing the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs).

But first, why are EVs such a blessing? The quick answer is that EVs, of course, are an incredibly clean form of transportation that do not release pollution “at the tailpipe.” EVs don’t even have tailpipes! Compare that with a conventional gasoline vehicle, which emits 20 pounds of air pollution per gallon burned. And because most electricity in Washington State comes from cleaner hydroelectric power, plugging an EV into the grid doesn’t create as much upstream pollution as it does in other parts of the country that rely heavily on fossil fuels to generate electricity.

Driving an electric car is also much cheaper than a conventional vehicle, particularly with our state’s relatively inexpensive electricity. After one accounts for the price of buying or leasing an EV, the cost of the energy equivalent of a single gallon of gasoline in Washington equals nearly $3, significantly lower than the gas prices we’re accustomed to seeing these days. But that’s not the whole story. A typical electric vehicle has double the fuel economy of even the most fuel efficient hybrids. For example, the 2014 Ford Focus Electric achieves a mark of 105 miles per gallon of gasoline equivalent (MPGe). Some calculate that the average electric vehicle owner could save over $1,000 a year on fuel costs, thereby offsetting the initial purchase premium of an EV over the lifetime of the vehicle.

If only we could accelerate the popularity of EVs, right?

Overall, many signs are pointing in the right direction. In August, the Nissan Leaf set a sales record for electric cars, selling over 3,000 vehicles, the second month in a row for sales to reach that milestone. In fact, monthly EV sales have nearly doubled since 2013. Even more encouraging is the slow but steady spread of EV-charging stations. The West Coast Electric Highway, for example, provides charging stations along I-5 every 25 to 50 miles, allowing EV drivers a chance to traverse from Bellingham, Washington to Medford, Oregon, with plenty of opportunities to re-charge their vehicle (and take in the views) along the way. Future plans would extend the electric corridor through California all the way to Mexico.

California is also doubling down on electric vehicles, with a recent bill which would let renters request a charging station at their home, allowing the cost of each charge to be added to the tenant’s rent. The state’s legislature is smartly responding to the surging popularity of electric vehicles – over 100,000 EVs have been sold in California over the last three years.

But Washington State has a few policy tricks up its sleeve as well, such as making all EV purchases exempt from state sales tax – a potential savings of several thousand dollars! Furthermore, the state has an extensive network of over 400 public EV-charging stations, and more on the way. The buzz is building, but we still have much more ground to cover. Join the movement to “drive” Washington toward becoming the most electric vehicle-friendly state in the country by driving an EV for yourself!

For more information on electric vehicles, check out these resources:

-Western Washington Clean Cities Team

Image credit: © Robert Hoetink - Fotolia.com