If you live in the USA, you might have to think a bit more before you buy an electric car. The reason? Some areas of the States have it better than others. It turns out that a lot of things depend on where you live. The range your car will have and the emissions that it puts out can be hugely different. It seems that geography is actually a big factor in how your car works!
A report published in Environmental Science and Technology looked at a current electric car, the Nissan Leaf. This is a model that is commercially available right now. Drivers were monitored during their normal days. They found that regional energy sources play a huge part in the range. Climate can also play its part. Of course, all of the estimates from car companies are done at the optimal level. This means that only some consumers will ever see those top results. Others could be looking at a different picture entirely. Hot and cold temperatures can both decrease the efficiency of a vehicle.
Electric vehicles have a few notches against them already. They are great for the environment and this stands very much in their favor. Cost is also a great thing for them. However, they generally only have a 70 to the 100-mile range after one charge. But that figure could be even lower than stated.
It seems that CO2 emissions are highest in the Midwest. This part of the country is the worst place to charge electric vehicles. If you want to really make a difference to the environment, move to the West. This is where the best results can be found. The lowest emission scores were recorded there. If you live in the Upper Midwest, where it can be very cold, the range may fall to 45 miles. In the Southwest, temperatures above 100 F had the same effect.
The differences which they found are large enough to make a big impact. This means that it could have implications for the emissions of electric vehicles. Are they really as great as we all think? It could be that there is more to explore on this topic. There is definitely room for improvement. The main thing to work on at the moment is the battery. It can have a lower rate of efficiency at different temperatures. It is also, of course, true that cars need to be better adapted to weathers. Using the air conditioning to cool down can use a lot more battery power. Similarly, the heating will make a difference when the outside temperature is low.
Some have pointed out that the source of the electric charge matters too. Does your electricity come from coal? If so, you are really driving a coal powered car. More energy solutions are going to be needed in future. This will help to cut emissions even further. That way we can expect to see improvements in the power of the cars as well. It is important to remember that this is still a developing industry.