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The Green Life: Gas? Where We're Going, We Don't Need Gas.

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July 13, 2009

Gas? Where We're Going, We Don't Need Gas.

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So our dreams of zipping off to work every morning in our hover cars may still be a bit far-fetched, but our dream of greener streets and highways may be just over the horizon. According to a study released today by UC Berkeley’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology, electric cars could become the most popular vehicles on the U.S. road by 2030. The paper asserts that benefits of electric cars would be immediate and far-reaching, improving our economy, health, and environment.

The study estimates that in a mere 21 years, electric cars “will account for 64 percent of U.S. light-vehicle sales” due to the “low purchase price and operating costs of electric cars with switchable batteries.” This sort of battery swapping is being championed by companies such as Better Place; their subscribers will have access to battery-charging and switching stations across the nation, allowing for increased usability.  

The mass adoption of electric cars will boost our economy and lessen our reliance on expensive and dwindling natural resources, according to the CET. The study states that the rise in electric-car usage will decrease our dependence on foreign oil, resulting in an 18 to 38 percent drop in oil imports (compared to improved internal-combustion-engine fuel efficiency). These eco-friendly vehicles will also reduce our trade deficit, by abating our need for petroleum. The car battery industry itself will become a new arena of investment, creating job opportunities and lucrative exports. 

The study also forecasts major gains in health, for people and the planet. Fewer air pollutants would mean lowered healthcare costs: an estimated savings of $105 to $205 billion. It's also estimated that electric cars powered by non-polluting sources will reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by up to 69 percent. So it might not be the future that Marty McFly and Doc Brown promised us, but it’s still a better, brighter road than we’re on now.

--Julia Gelbaum

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