EVs Only Displaced 2 Days Worth of Gas Consumption Over the Last Decade

Plug-ins have saved 2.5 billion gallons of gasoline between 2010 and 2021, but that's a small drop in a very big bucket.

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U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg speaks during an event to discuss investments in the U.S. electric vehicle charging network, outside Department of Transportation headquarters on February 10, 2022 in Washington, DC.
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg speaks during an event to discuss investments in the U.S. electric vehicle charging network, outside Department of Transportation headquarters on February 10, 2022 in Washington, DC.
Photo: Drew Angerer (Getty Images)

Electric vehicles may seem like the future, but it’s a future that is still a far way off, according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Lab covering the affect of EVs over the last decade.

The lab comes at you with some interesting and ultimately depressing numbers. While EVs have grown in popularity since 2010, they still only represent four percent of the market at the end of 2021. Americans bought 2.1 million plug-in vehicles, including 1.3 million battery EVs, in the last decade.

Globally, EVs are selling even better, with 26 million predicted to be roaming international roads by year’s end, according to experts. Within the U.S., only 12 states are really carrying EV adoption forward, with 38.9 percent of all American EVs being registered in California. Right now, EVs make up one percent of all vehicles on the road, but have only reduced gasoline consumption half a percent thanks to dropping PHEV electrical range and the resurrection of the gas-guzzler. From ArsTechnica:

In total, Argonne calculates that US plug-in vehicles have driven nearly 70 billion miles since 2010, consuming 22 TWh of energy in the process. That’s displaced the use of more than 2.5 billion gallons of gasoline and 19 million tons of greenhouse gases, Argonne reports, although for context, the US consumed about 369 million gallons of gasoline a day in 2021. For 2021 specifically, plug-in vehicles saved about 690 million gallons of gasoline—about two days of consumption—and reduced CO2 emissions by 5.4 million metric tons, consuming 6.1 TWh in the process.

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It took 10 years for EVs to displace the equivalent of just two days of gasoline consumption in the U.S. But there is reason to hope: EV sales doubled in 2021 from 308,000 vehicles to 634,000 thanks to continuing development of charging infrastructure, automakers rolling out new products and cities and states vowing to ban gas-powered car sales within the next decade.