Switching To Electric Vehicles Could Save The US Billions, But Timing Is Everything

Today, less than 2 percent of the vehicles Americans buy are electric. But within the next three decades, some automotive industry experts expect electric vehicles could make up the majority of U.S. and global car sales.

All told, American drivers log about 3 trillion miles per year, consuming more than 170 billion gallons of gasoline and diesel in the process. Converting all those road miles to electricity would place new demands on the nation’s system for producing and delivering electricity.

As part of a major energy infrastructure study, we are seeking to understand how an increase in electric vehicles (EVs) might change how energy is supplied and consumed. So far, we have figured out the impact of electric vehicles will depend on where you live and when they are charged.

Estimating how much electricity EVs will demand

Using a similar technique featured in our recent paper on hydrogen vehicles, we developed a state-by-state assessment of the amount of electricity that would be needed to charge an electrified fleet of personal cars, trucks and SUVs.

We started by estimating the amount of gasoline every county consumes today. We then converted vehicle miles traveled into electricity requirements based on the efficiency of today’s EVs.

Admittedly, these methods have limitations. The number of miles traveled could change significantly if autonomous vehicles become commonplace and more people rely on Uber, Lyft and other vehicle sharing services, for example. However, we believe our approach provides a good starting point for estimating future electricity demand if EVs become the norm.

Regional impacts

The U.S. electric grid has continually evolved to accommodate new demands throughout the last century. But if the nation’s vehicles were to rapidly become electric, the grid would need to change faster. Depending on local driving habits and the grid infrastructure that’s already in place, our analysis shows that EVs will have different impacts in different regions.

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This guest post is authored by F. Todd Davidson, Dave ...

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Gary Anderson 2 months ago Contributor's comment

Switching to electric cars will not be popular. There are a few fanatics but they will never be the rage in Las Vegas and many other places. The cheaper hybrids have no punch. Ford says self driving will never really work. The powerful electric cars are too expensive for most. It won't work.