STUDY: Electric Cars are Actually Worse for Environment

‘The economic value of CO2 emissions reductions associated with zero emission vehicles is effectively zero…’

In California, Gas Tax Subsidizes Electric Cars

Photo by frankh (CC)

(Michael Barnes, Liberty Headlines) Despite billions of dollars in taxpayer support and government regulations aimed at killing competition, electric and battery-powered vehicles may actually be worse for the environment than the gas-guzzling cars and trucks they are supposed to replace.

That’s the takeaway from a new study produced by the free-market-leaning Manhattan Institute, called “Short Circuit: The High Cost of Electric Subsidies.”

Its findings strike at the heart of what’s become a liberal sacred cow.

“The bottom line is that the economic and environmental rationales for subsidizing zero emission vehicles do not withstand scrutiny,” concludes author Jonathan A. Lesser.


The report alludes to a surprising lack of results-oriented scholarship regarding the massive federal and state government handouts that serve to prop up the industry.

In California alone, the total cost of government subsidies – which include federal tax credits and state rebates for those who buy the so-called zero emission vehicles – as well as subsidies for private and public electric charging infrastructure, is more than $100 billion.

For perspective, that’s about $11 billion more than the entire Florida state budget for 2018.

The taxpayer-funded perks also have the perverse effect of benefiting higher income consumers who can afford to purchase electricity-powered vehicles, which are typically more expensive than their gas-powered counterparts.

“These subsidies, along with mandates for zero emission vehicle adoption, should be eliminated,” Lesser says.

The idea that electric cars and trucks might not actually help the environment is where the rubber hits the road.

That rationale needs rethinking, the study says.

“The entire premise for subsidizing zero emission vehicles and the infrastructure needed to power them – reduced air pollution and lower CO2 emissions – is flawed,” the study says.

That’s because the cars of the past are not the cars of today.

Market-driven changes to gas engines along with new technologies, such as complicated computer sensors, have all but negated the proposed environmental benefits of electric vehicles.

Lower emissions standards and the advent of cleaner burning gasoline are the mains reasons why newer gasoline-powered cars and trucks emit far less pollution.

They’re expected to emit even less in the future.

GOP Tax Plan Keeps Green Energy, Electric Car Subsidies

Tesla Model X/Photo by Schwar (CC)

On the other hand, electric vehicles produce their own pollutants – such as sulfur dioxide, oxides of nitrogen, and other particulates – despite their zero emission label.

When comparing an equal number of newer gas vehicles with electric vehicles, the gas-powered vehicles are likely to produce less pollutants overall, according to the study.

Electric cars produce less carbon dioxide, the assumed driver of global warming, but the total reduction of carbon dioxide is projected to be less than 1-percent of U.S. energy-related emissions through 2050.

“That reduction will have no measurable impact on world climate – and thus the economic value of CO2 emissions reductions associated with zero emission vehicles is effectively zero,” the study states.

Nevertheless, public rhetoric and news headlines continue to tout the benefits of electric cars and trucks, and signal the impending doom of traditional automobiles.

Laws signed by presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama have paved the way through expensive federal tax giveaways of up to $7,500 per vehicle, while many states dangle their own mix of goodies, including $5,000 tax rebates for electric car chargers – not to mention free use of public charging stations and electric car pool lanes.

“All of this might make sense if electric vehicles, as their supporters claim, were truly likely to reduce air pollution and tackle climate change. But are they?,” Lesser questioned.