You don’t have to be a Prius driving, peace-sign bumper sticker toting, clean energy enthusiast to be interested in cleaner air and decreased dependence on fossil fuels. The emergence of viable alternative energy options allows consumers to save money and diminish the negative impacts of modern life on the environment at the same time. That’s a win-win, right?
Well, at least as it relates to electric vehicles (EVs), the answer to that question is still very dependent on where you’re charging your car. Different states and countries generate their electricity in vastly different ways, and how green your driving is depends almost entirely on the way your state’s power grid breaks down.
In Oregon and our West Coast neighbors, EVs are dramatically cleaner and less damaging to the environment than gasoline or diesel vehicles. Only five states, including Oregon, Washington, and Idaho, generate over half of their power from hydroelectricity, but Oregon, Washington and Idaho are the only states to use hydroelectric for more than 85% of our power! That makes driving a Soul EV a very green experience, and it’s the reason Oregonians and Washingtonians were among the first to be able to purchase Kia’s first all-electric car.
But if you were to bring your Soul EV on a nice vacation to visit your aunt in Kentucky? Well, your lean, mean, green machine would still be quiet and smooth, but it would be rolling down the road using energy that’s more than 90% coal generated. That means the Teslas set to go on sale in pollution-riddled China, which also gets most of its power from coal, are actually doing more damage to the air quality than the gas cars they’re competing with.
So what’s a lover of all things EV to do? Well, in our humble opinion, you could do a whole lot worse than simply living on the West coast. But barring that, always consider your location, not just whether or not you’re using gasoline. A greener future is on the horizon, but next time you’re renting a car in West Virginia, don’t rent an EV just because you want to take it easy on Mother Nature. At least for now, there are still places where driving a gas-loving V8 is the eco-conscious choice.