We kind of already knew this, but now a study confirms that the widespread adoption of electric cars is going to save thousands of lives and billions of dollars.

The study is coming out of Northwestern University where researchers have combined climate modeling with public health data in order to evaluate the impact of electric vehicles on US lives and the economy.

They found that with electric cars replacing 25% of the current combustion-engine car fleet in the US, it would save “approximately $17 billion annually by avoiding damages from climate change and air pollution.”

Increasing the EV fleet to 75% of cars, along with more renewable energy on the grid, would result in “as much as $70 billion annually” in savings.

Daniel Peters, who led the study published the journal GeoHealth last week, commented:

“Vehicle electrification in the United States could prevent hundreds to thousands of premature deaths annually while reducing carbon emissions by hundreds of millions of tons. This highlights the potential of co-beneficial solutions to climate change that not only curb greenhouse gas emissions but also reduce the health burden of harmful air pollution.” 

While the study focused on the economic impact, it also noted that electric vehicles will save thousands of lives.

 Daniel Horton, senior author of the study, noted:

“From an engineering and technological standpoint, people have been developing solutions to climate change for years. But we need to rigorously assess these solutions. This study presents a nuanced look at EVs and energy generation and found that EV adoption not only reduces greenhouse gases but saves lives.”

More electric cars mean shifting gas demand to electricity demand, which is not always clean, but the study took that into account and found that the environmental impact would be far less with more electric cars on the road.

They wrote:

With this model, the researchers simulated air pollutant changes across the lower 48 states, based on different levels of EV adoption and renewable energy generation. Then, they combined this information with publicly available county health data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This combination enabled the research team to assess health consequences from the air quality changes caused by each electrification scenario.

Furthermore, the electric grid is also getting cleaner as the US phases out coal and adds more solar and wind capacity.

Electrek’s Take

This is kind of a “duh” moment. Most people know that, but it’s nice to have it confirmed in a study, and hopefully, it will change a few minds.

Of course, we should keep in mind that the study is looking at 25% and 75% of the entire fleet.

Unfortunately, that is decades away.

What we are more focused on is the percentage of new cars being electric since the faster that’s at 100%, the faster the entire fleet will be electric.

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