Electric Vehicles Can Help Reduce U.S. Oil Dependence

Note: This is a guest post from Phyllis Cuttino, Director of Pew’s Clean Energy Program.

Global energy consumption is expected to increase 53 percent by 2035. Much of the new demand is from developing countries that are experiencing rapid economic growth and the emergence of a middle class. In India alone, 1.5 million vehicles a month are added to the nation’s total, increasing pressure on an often volatile petroleum market.

As the need for energy and oil surges, nations like India — as well as Germany, China and Japan — are adopting strong national policies to capture billions of dollars in private capital to develop and deploy clean energy systems, some of which can help limit their dependence on imported oil. These countries recognize that clean energy can enhance their energy security, create domestic jobs and businesses, and protect the environment by reducing pollution.

The United States shares these goals. We too must implement our own clean energy policy solutions if we hope to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and stop the transfer of $1 billion daily from our economy, some of which flows to countries hostile to our national interests.

Along with fuel efficiency and other conservation measures, electric vehicles offer an opportunity for the United States to reduce our oil consumption, help consumers and businesses lower fuel costs, and become a global leader in the production, deployment and export of new technologies. In 2011, the transportation sector accounted for more than 70 percent of U.S. oil consumption, and the cost of imported oil totaled more than $300 billion. The typical American household spent a record $4,155 on fuel costs last year, according to the Oil Price Information Service.

Moving toward cleaner, cost-effective, domestic fuels such as electricity can help address the economic and national security consequences of U.S. oil dependence. For example, electricity is generated through diversified, domestic sources. And fueling an electric vehicle (EV) is much cheaper than a vehicle using gas: it costs 2 or 3 cents to drive one mile in an EV and about 15 cents to travel the same distance in a gasoline-powered vehicle.

But EVs are not just about lowering fuel costs and reducing our oil imports. Investment in technologies like the advanced batteries that power EVs offers an opportunity for the United States to lead in an explosive new market and create jobs. Bloomberg New Energy Finance, which analyzes clean energy markets, has estimated that the advanced battery industry alone could reach $100 billion annually by 2030.

Nations such as South Korea, Japan and China are aggressively investing billions of dollars in research and development and incentivizing deployment of EVs to capture large shares in this growing worldwide sector. We should too. While private capital plays a key role, the support of policymakers at the federal, state and local levels is critical to unleashing the power of America’s manufacturers and private-sector investment.

In particular, two tax provisions supporting EV deployment expired in 2011 and should be reinstated by Congress:

  • Section 30C. Alternative fuel vehicle refueling property credit. This provision provided a tax credit against the cost of investments made in alternative fuel infrastructure placed in service during the same tax year. It applied to infrastructure deployed in business or residential settings. It was technology-neutral and supported numerous fuels, including electric drive, that would reduce U.S. dependence on petroleum.
  • Section 30B. Credits for Hybrid Medium- and Heavy-Duty Trucks. Hybrid and electric drive technologies are ripe for deployment in medium- and heavy-duty trucks, especially those in stop-and-go urban, port, and industrial sites. Hybrid and electric drives can increase fuel efficiency in trucks from 20 to more than 50 percent. Medium- and heavy-duty vehicles are second only to automobiles in oil consumption and are responsible for 20 percent of U.S. transportation-based greenhouse gas emissions. These incentives sought to accelerate the development and deployment of more efficient and cleaner vehicles and to help create domestic jobs.

These two near-term solutions would help support the U.S. electric vehicle market. These incentives are critical signals to investors and essential factors to increase American jobs, support businesses and accelerate the adoption of EVs and plug-in hybrids.

America must manufacture and export clean energy technologies around the world if we are to effectively compete in the fierce 21st century clean energy race. Electric vehicles are one avenue to reducing dependence on foreign oil and helping manage the increasing energy needs of the world’s burgeoning middle class — and competing globally for private investment, jobs, and exports.

Learn more about electric vehicles (Infographic).


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How Saab Went From Filing for Bankruptcy to Only Producing Electric Cars



Azle B.
Azle B5 years ago

If we start now we could join the race to develop an electric vehicle. Hurry up! USA can do it.

paul m.
paul m6 years ago

In Ireland, the electric car costs about twice as much as petrol / disel the're too slow
and there are few or no power points and also the ammount of time to charge the battery.

So, no for me,,,,.!!

Christopher M.
Christopher M.6 years ago

Good point. The lithium batteries eventually stop working.

Christopher M.
Christopher M.6 years ago

Because a nuclear reactor can generate electricity without CO2. So can wind, solar, hydroelectric.

Harry B.
Harry B6 years ago

I totally agree with Howard C., but I would add a comment. Yes is an perfect world electric cars would be perfect, but there are so many problems yet to be overcome. The use of heavy, expensive, polluting batteries that can only run the tiny car for short distances and take a long time to charge is a major problem. But the biggest problem is that in much of the US the electricity to charge these inefficient batteries comes from coal. Much of that coal comes from the Appalachian mountains that I live in. My mountains are being destroyed by mountaintop removal mining so people can drive cute little electric cars and heat/cool houses big enough for 3 families to live in and keep the wasted lights on in places like Las Vegas Disney World and other "entertainment" meccas. It's time to learn to conserve and put on sweaters until we figure out how to generate all the electrons we need from clean sources.

Duane B.
.6 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Michael C.
Michael C6 years ago

Vladimir, First, GMC never produced the Volt, Chevrolet is another company two different companies, at least, on paper.

David, Or as we say, bubbe, it is jewish thing. You stated that Israeli Electric car is about hit the road. I have a question for you.

The car seats 4, correct. What about the air bags, seat belts, CD player, sun roof and of course, the ash tray.

There were three Palis on the way to market to sell their new electric car, they were stopped by the IDF, they were told to strip naked. Oy vey, plotz.!
By night fall, they were all engaged to be married to shikse, a tchatchke, tap on the tuches. Ah, you had to have been there, what a wedding. Then it was off to the kibbitz, on that which was not theirs. Ah, you will never understand my people, we are a disturbed lot, but were having fun.

Thank you Amerika for the Billions of $$$$ you send each year. It is keeping us in swimming pools and nuclear bombs, oh, forget I said that. We will send you a card from Tehran, bombs away.

Mazel Tov, a jew for jesus, currently dining in Tel Aviv, with member of Hamas, don't you worry, just an old family friend of the Mossad.

Tuching story wasn't it. I meant, touchy. Shalom

Michael C.
Michael C6 years ago

Toby S, I love the picture from your bio, but don't you think it is time for a nip and tuck in the land down under, if you know what I mean.

Otherwise, priceless, the only words that could to mind, "hung far low.' Please no more inexpensive Sangria, God, I hope that it is not on the menu. Cheers.

Toby Seiler
Past Member 6 years ago

Tesla is a leader for distance. It has 6000 lithium batteries. I understand they cost about $4 each. That's $24,000 for battery replacement so one can see why battery vehicles are NOT cost efficient. My cousin with a Jetta turbo diesel gets 42 mpg.

Past Member 6 years ago

There is one other major thing that needs to happen: The companies making these vehicles need to lower the price of them so that they're initially cheaper than their petrol using counterparts. If I could afford a hybrid, I would get one. Unfortunately, I'm not in a position to buy ANY new car (or even a newer used car) right now. Regardless of the long term savings, of I don't have enough money to purchase a hybrid or a straight EV (either in terms of buying one outright, or in terms of the needed down payment and subsequent monthly payments), I'm going to have to go for the petrol using vehicle instead as, class for class, the petrol using vehicles are cheaper out of the dealers' doors, regardless of the long term savings. I realize that lowering the initial cost to the consumer for the hybrid or EV would cut into corporate profits, but they would in fact be making them up in the long run, themselves.