Electric cars could save more than 100,000 lives, study claims

A Toyota RAV4 covered 1,942 on 22 May, 2023, driving on a specially designed electric road built by wireless charging startup Electreon (Electreon)
A Toyota RAV4 covered 1,942 on 22 May, 2023, driving on a specially designed electric road built by wireless charging startup Electreon (Electreon)

The transition to electric vehicles could save more than 100,000 lives in the US by 2050, according to a new study.

Switching from fossil uel-burning to zero-emission vehicles would also result in 3 million fewer asthma attacks, the American Lung Association reported on Wednesday, provided that no more gas cars are on the road by 2035.

Combined with cleaner electricity generation through renewable sources like solar and wind, this could generate over $1.2 trillion in public health benefits over the next quarter of a century.

The report calculates what health impacts the emissions reduction would have on people living near busy roads or near electricity generation with unacceptable doses of toxic air pollution.

“These benefits would take the form of avoiding up to 110,000 premature deaths, along with nearly 3 million asthma attacks and over 13 million workdays lost due to cleaner air,” the report stated.

“Policies and investments must prioritise low-income communities and communities of colour that bear a disproportionate pollution burden. State and local jurisdictions should act to implement policies as soon as possible.”

The report also notes that such a swift transition would avoid “even more dire consequences of climate change” on a global scale.

Many countries have already made commitments to ban the sale of fossil fuel vehicles over the coming years in order to meet climate targets, while several major automotive companies have announced that they will stop manufacturing them.

The US and China, which represent the two biggest car markets, have targets of 100 per cent zero-emission vehicle sales by 2040, similar to the UK and Europe.

Despite these targets, only 4.6 per cent of cars sold in the US in 2021 were electric, according to figures from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In the UK, a recent surge in electric car sales saw them surpass sales of new diesel cars for the first time last year.