Plug-Ins Saved US Nearly 400M Gallons of Fuel Last Year

Plug-in hybrid and battery vehicles in the US saved 383M gallons of fuel in 2018, up 42% on the previous year.

However, in carbon footprint terms, this was offset by the vehicles consuming an extra 2,800 gigawatt hours of electricity during the year, increase of 40%, raising questions over the fossil fuel mix of the energy depending on which were the home states of the cars.

The data from the US Department of Energy comes as sales of the electrified vehicles in the US have risen dramatically over the last couple of years, with 361,000 plug-in vehicles being sold last year, almost double the 2017 amount of 196,000 and taking the total amount of these cars sold in the US to more than a million. Yet, that is still only a fraction of the over 17M new cars sold in the country last year. An Automobile Association of America (AAA) study found last week that Americans are still largely skeptical that the majority of cars on the roads will electric-powered in 2029, showing electrified cars have some way to go before they are fully accepted by the public.

Finally, plug-in vehicles are claimed to have reduced CO2 emissions by 1.60M tons in 2018, equivalent to the reduction in CO2 that over 26M trees grown for 10 years would have. However, that is only the emissions of the vehicles themselves because electrified powertrains may be more damaging to the climate because the lithium extraction process, required to make a battery cell, creates polluting gasses that are incredibly environmentally harmful.

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