A paper from National Bureau of Economic Research was done in attempt to calculate the environmental benefits of electronic vehicle (EV) when compared to conventional vehicles apart from the role of incentive which aim to encourage people to buy electric vehicles. The paper was authored by four economists from University of North Carolina (UNC) Greensboro, Dartmouth College, Middlebury College and UNC Chapel Hill.
The four economists came up with a modeling framework to analyze the electric vehicle policy with three different components. First, model of consumer choice to choose between EVs and conventional cars, second, they add in the effect of EV on air pollution in each of power stations, and lastly, the model compares the emissions from these power stations and the emissions from the conventional cars at the same location.
The authors use the total number of emissions per mile from 11 different battery EVs on sale in 2014 and they compare to the most similar gasoline-powered cars such as EV Ford Focus versus regular Focus or Fiat 500e versus regular Fiat 500. For the EVs which do not have conventional car models such as Nissan Leaf or Mitsubishi i-MiEV, they compared them with conventional cars which they believed to be more or less equivalent in features such as Toyota Prius or Chevrolet Spark. The authors then compare the EVs’ kWh/mile with the conventional cars’ fuel as well as pollution from nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, small particulates and volatile organic compounds.
The result shows that EV may cause more damage when driving it outside a number of Californian and Texan cities as the low population means comparatively little air pollution; however, it might be a good idea to drive EV in Los Angeles whereby there is a lot of traffic. However, the model also fails when applied to Chicago and New York eventhough these two cities having a lot more air pollution caused by gasoline-powered cars.