Electric Cars Could Replace 90% Of The Vehicles On The Road, MIT Study Finds

Mass-scale adoption would lead to a 30% reduction in transport emissions.

16/08/2016 17:00 | Updated 16 August 2016

Electric cars could replace 90% of existing vehicles and lead to a 30% reduction in transport emissions, an MIT study has found. 

Researchers spent four years analysing millions of trips across America, concluding that electric cars could satisfy owners’ needs in nearly every instance, despite their limited range. 

The study also found that the estimated 87% adoption rate would more than meet near-term US climate targets for personal vehicle travel. Emissions cuts would be even greater if power plants decarbonise over time. 

Jessica Trancik, associate professor in energy studies at MIT, said: “Roughly 90 percent of the personal vehicles on the road daily could be replaced by a low-cost electric vehicle available on the market today, even if the cars can only charge overnight.”

Gary Cameron / Reuters

The team found that most cars consumer no more energy on a day to day basis than the battery energy capacity in affordable electric vehicles currently on the market. Adoption would also come at no overall extra cost to drivers.

Trancik believes that remaining driving needs could be met by using a different car in a two-car home, or by renting, or using a car-sharing service. 

She told the Guardian: “We still need a little bit of business model innovation, with community car sharing, or car sharing [businesses] where you could maybe order one the night before on that small number of very high-energy days.”

The Guardian reported that the team is now developing an app that can predict when electric car owners will require a conventional vehicle. 

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