Skip to content
CityLab
Environment

Where Electric Vehicles Actually Cause More Pollution Than Gas Cars

If you think EVs are always greener, these county-level maps will take you by surprise.
relates to Where Electric Vehicles Actually Cause More Pollution Than Gas Cars
futureatlas.com / Flickr

The idea that gasoline cars might cause less environmental harm than electric vehicles seems impossibly backwards. But consider the following thought experiment before you dismiss it out of hand.

A view from the tailpipe gives EVs a clear edge: no emissions, no pollution, no problem. Shift the view to that of a smokestack, though, and we get a much different picture. The EV that caused no environmental damage on the road during the day still needs to be charged at night. This requires a great deal of electricity generated by a power plant somewhere, and if that power plant runs on coal, it’s not hard to imagine it spewing more emissions from a smokestack than a comparable gas car coughed up from a tailpipe.