While the emissions produced by cars traversing the world's cities are undoubtedly a problem, it is by no means the only issue with personal transportation. As the world's car fleet continues to grow, the problem of traffic congestion will get dramatically worse, even if they are all powered by magic electric fairies.

Replacing millions of cars low- or zero-emission vehicles could actually have the unintended consequence of making congestion worse. The problem is that for the foreseeable future limited battery capacity and high cost will mean that urban commuter cars will dominate the EV market. These will naturally be used where traffic is already bad.

Perhaps instead of spending tens or hundreds of billions of dollars to subsidize the adoption of personal electric vehicles, governments should put a chunk of that money toward electric public transportation. By getting people out of individual vehicles and into streetcars, trams and elevated and subterranean trains, both air quality and congestion will be improved. Blend this with increased car sharing of larger, longer range vehicles that urban residents could use on an as-needed basis, and we could make a real difference.

[Source: The Globe and Mail]

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