Does driving a BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle) actually reduce emissions?
Yes, unless you live in a coal dependent region.
While a BEV does not produce tailpipe emissions, the production of electricity with which it is charged is an indirect source of greenhouse gas emissions.
The emissions generated from charging and driving a BEV depends on several factors. The largest factor is the mix of energy sources and production methods that are used to generate the electricity with which it is charged. This may include the burning of fossil fuels in coal or gas power plants, the use of renewable sources such as wind and solar power, and nuclear power. In fact, operating a BEV using electricity generated predominantly by burning coal produces approximately 9,000 pounds of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions per year, while a hybrid vehicle produces around 6,000 pounds of CO2e. On average, in the United States the emissions of a BEV is around 4,000 pounds of CO2e, while a typical non-hybrid vehicle produces over 11,000 pounds of CO2e each year.
To find out what the average emissions for different vehicle types in your state is click here.
Additionally, the time of day that a BEV is charged impacts the emissions level of that vehicle. Since more renewable energy is produced during the day, charging a BEV during the day instead of at night produces less emissions.
Most BEVs do reduce tailpipe emissions; however in coal dependent regions a hybrid might be the best choice.