If you were thinking of buying an electric or hybrid car in order to do your bit for the environment, then you might want to read the new research printed in the Environmental Science & Technology journal first.

The research claims that even if we see a great increase in the number of people using hybrid or fully electric cars, it still won’t drastically reduce the amount of harmful gases emitted in the United States.

Electric Car

The researchers from North Carolina State University explain that “passenger vehicles make up a relatively small share of total emissions”, so even if everyone drove an electric car, it still wouldn’t solve the pollution problem. The study also highlights again the issue with producing electric cars, that they cause an increase in pollution, not from emissions but from the power plants that have to produce their energy.

The study was conducted by modelling gas emission patterns and battery costs through to 2050, creating 108 different scenarios. The results showed that oil prices and battery costs are what will have the biggest impact on electric drive vehicles. It suggests that by 2050 up to 40 percent of the cars in the U.S. would be electric or hybrid. Yet despite that optimistic number the researchers still  “do not see a noticeable reduction compared to even 0 percent EDV deployment.”

So as a result of this new research, should we conclude that it is pointless buying hybrid or electric cars? Well lead authour for the research, Joseph DeCarolis, says that we should not be discouraged from buying them because they can still be useful in helping to relieve a country from oil dependency and can improve air pollution in urban areas.

The key thing to take away from this study is that it’s not the cars themselves that are the issue but rather how we generate the electricity to power them. If a better solution can be found in producing that electricity, then that will improve the environment in the long run.

[Image via Lerablog]

SOURCE: http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es4045677