Battle of the electric vehicle research studies

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Electric vehicles lead to hidden environmental and health damages and are likely more harmful than gasoline cars and other transportation option, according to research by Ozzie Zehner, a visiting scholar at the University of California – Berkeley.

Credit: PRNewsFoto/Ozzie Zehner

The research indicates that the recent billions spent on subsidies for electric cars may actually be doing more harm than good after considering full electric vehicle lifecycles (from construction through operation to the junkyard) and recommends shifting electric car subsidies toward more robust options backed by research, including emissions testing, bicycle infrastructure, smog reduction initiatives, and land-use changes.

Zehner was once an electric car enthusiast.

"Upon closer consideration, moving from petroleum-fueled vehicles to electric cars starts to appear tantamount to shifting from one brand of cigarettes to another," Zehner wrote in an article in IEEE Spectrum.

Zehner has analyzed the way electric vehicle research is performed and by whom, including corporate-sponsored research at Georgetown University, MIT, University of Michigan, Stanford University, Indiana University, University of California – Davis, University of Delaware, and the University of Colorado, concluding that, "the findings of corporate-supported studies are not necessarily wrong, but the researchers are too frequently asking the wrong questions."

Political priorities and corporate influence have created a flawed impression that electric vehicles significantly reduce transportation impacts, Zehner contends, while publicly-funded studies from organizations like the National Academy of Sciences, the National Science Foundation and the Congressional Budget Office have found no health or environmental benefit to driving an electric vehicle nor have they found the vehicles cleaner than other forms of transportation.

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