If you happen to be part of the audience that isn't on board yet, maybe operators of electric buses could change your mind. In addition to being cleaner, EV buses are more profitable than their diesel counterparts. A study from the India Institute of Science finds that the difference in revenue is - and I risk understating it here - significant. To quote the study's co-author Sheela Ramasesha, "Electric buses generate 27 percent more revenue and 82 percent more profits than diesel buses per day." This study used a single BYD electric bus on an existing route in Bangalore. Depending on the size of your own fleet and business model, EV buses could save you a lot of money in the long run, via fuel costs and maintenance.
Of course, there's the environmental benefit, too, if you're into the whole global responsibility thing. "25 tonnes of CO2 emission can be cut every year for every diesel bus replaced by an electric bus," says Ramasesha. In India, some 150,000 diesel buses contribute to the 670,000 yearly deaths attributed to air pollution.
If you want to do your part for the environment as an individual, switching to an EV is one of the most impactful things you can do. Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle of the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute recently penned a column (based on a whole study) outlining the ways you can do your part to mitigate climate change. These actions aren't limited to the domain of transportation, as the authors suggest ways you can live more responsibly by watching your energy use at home and changing your diet. (There are a number of easy steps you can take to reduce your personal emissions that won't affect your lifestyle. It's a handy reference, and the article is worth a read.)
To have any large impact on your carbon footprint, though, Sivak and Schoettle say that "there is only one realistic action that, by itself, would accomplish the goal: driving a more fuel-efficient vehicle." If average fuel economy in the US increased from 21.4 mpg to 31 mpg, that would mean a five-percent reduction in the total emissions of the entire United States. An average fuel economy of 56 mpg would knock emissions down by 10 percent.
"Buying a car with better mileage is by far the single most effective single action you can take to help preserve the planet." - UMTRI
"Individuals can reduce emissions in a variety of ways," the authors conclude. "But for those of you who have the money and the inclination, our analysis indicates that buying a car with better mileage is by far the single most effective single action you can take to help preserve the planet."
And, especially if you live where the energy mix is tilted toward renewable resources, switching to an EV is about as big of a difference a single individual can make without giving up driving altogether. Many EVs offer EPA ratings of over 100 MPGe.
Mobility is important, and for many people, driving is a necessary part of life. The right EV, though, could lead to some savings down the road (especially if you manage a fleet of vehicles), but the meaningful impact for the planet is something you can't put a price tag on.