There are a lot of different ways to measure how electric cars will impact our lives, perhaps as many ways to measure as there will be changes to our daily transportation in the coming years. Today, we present two options, one that shows an overall comparison between powering our vehicles using gasoline and the other that shows that lithium-ion-powered cars are not as bad for the environment as some say.

First, the chart. Sent to us by Free Insurance Quotes, we have a simplified chain of numbers that purports to show how the U.S. could potentially generate enough electricity to totally replace the gasoline we currently use to move our vehicles. The chart does, of course, leave out the parts about how we can't just magically replace all of the gas-burning models with plug-in vehicles overnight and we're also not sure about the simplified statement that an electric car "consumes roughly 25 percent as much energy as a gas-powered car," but it does show that there's a lot of potential out there. See the entire image after the jump.

Second, some lifecycle analysis numbers about the impact of lithium-ion batteries on the environment. The short version: they're not as bad as some people said. Basically, it turns out that electric cars that use lithium-ion batteries "beat their gas-fueled counterparts." This research was done by the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (EMPA) and found:
about 15% of an electric vehicles' total environmental burden comes from manufacturing, maintaining, and disposing of the lithium-ion battery. Most of those costs, about 50%, stem from mining and manufacturing the copper and aluminum used in the battery and its connecting cables. Extracting the necessary lithium produces only 2.3% of the battery's total environmental footprint.
Recharging the battery is a big part of running an electric car, of course, and the researchers discovered:
When the vehicles charged up on electricity from coal-fired plants alone, their total environmental impact increased by 13%, but it dropped by 40% when the electricity came solely from hydropower.
Finally, we come to the key finding:
[Researchers] calculated that a car with an internal combustion engine would need a fuel economy of about 60 to 80 mpg to achieve a lower environmental impact than a battery-powered electric vehicle that recharged using European power sources.
So, there are your target numbers, ICE fans.

[Source: Free Insurance Quotes]

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