MIT Energy Initiative

Cost-competitive electric vehicles that go the distance

Detailed look at 125 U.S. auto models finds those emitting less carbon are the least expensive to drive

Credit: Flickr

If you look in aggregate at the most popular vehicles on the market today, one doesn’t have to pay more for a lower carbon-emitting vehicle.

Jessika Trancik, Energy Studies Professor 

Researchers at MIT have just completed the most comprehensive study yet to address whether existing electric vehicles, despite their limited driving range, could bring about a meaningful reduction in the greenhouse-gas emissions that are causing global climate change. The four-year project integrated two enormous datasets: one highly detailed set of second-by-second driving behavior based on GPS data, and another broader, more comprehensive set of national data based on travel surveys. Together, the two datasets encompass millions of trips made by drivers all around the country. According to study author Jessika Trancik, “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.”

This research was supported in part by the MIT Energy Initiative.

Research Team