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Are EVs worth it? Study helps calculate savings on emissions, fuel.

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Regional disparities in electric grid emissions, gasoline prices, and the cost of electricity make comparisons tough. The UCS analysis takes into account the sources of local electric power and then breaks the United States into "good," "better," or "best" emissions categories.

Forty-five percent of Americans live in "best" regions, where an EV has lower greenhouse gas emissions than a gasoline-powered vehicle that gets 50 m.p.g., surpassing even the best electric-gasoline hybrids on the market. In California and most of New York, meanwhile, an EV’s environmental performance could equal the performance of an 80-m.p.g. gasoline-powered vehicle, if there is such a beast.

An EV owner in Boston would see major emissions savings and a fuel cost savings of about $850 a year, compared with a 27-m.p.g. conventional vehicle. An EV owner Oklahoma City, where electricity prices are lower, would save $1,150 a year. But emissions improvement for the Oklahoma EV owner would be only about half that of the New England EV driver because of the region's larger reliance on coal power. 

EVs cost more upfront, but they also are a buffer against rising gasoline prices. For each 50-cent increase in gas prices, an EV driver can expect save an extra $200 a year, the study says.

Today an EV driver could use 6,100 fewer gallons of gasoline and save nearly $13,000 on fuel over the life of the vehicle compared with the average new compact car. Savings are less dramatic, however, when EVs are compared with high-mileage standard hybrids or high-mileage conventional vehicles.

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