Electric pickup trucks have a lower carbon footprint than the average gasoline or diesel truck anywhere in the United States, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) said in the latest update of its ongoing EV emissions analysis.
While EVs have no “tailpipe” emissions, the grid electricity used to charge them can be a source of carbon emissions. The UCS has tracked this for about a decade, documenting how EVs have gotten cleaner with the grid as renewable energy has taken on a greater share of electricity generation.
With electric pickups now hitting the market in significant numbers, the UCS has been able to incorporate them into its analysis. And despite their relative inefficiency, the UCS found that they’re still responsible for lower levels of emissions than internal-combustion trucks.
2022 Ford F-150 Lightning
“Everywhere in the United States, the emissions from driving an EV pickup truck are lower than those for the average new gasoline or diesel pickup truck,” David Reichmuth, senior engineer for the UCS’ Clean Transportation Program, said in a statement.
An electric pickup reduces lifetime emissions 57% compared to the average gasoline truck, the analysis found. As with other EVs, the specific level of emissions varies by state and the local grid mix.
With the vast portion of carbon footprint related to energy in use, your EV is essentially as clean as the grid you plug into—which might progress at a slower rate in some parts of the country given a recent Supreme Court ruling limiting federal regulatory oversight of power plant emissions. The UCS has a tool for calculating estimated emissions in your area.
Average electric pickup truck – gasoline mpg equivalent – UCS, 7/2022
A Harvard study found that the Midwest potentially has the most to gain in a shift to cleaner energy sources—and the UCS map still makes that apparent. It shows a much narrower advantage for EVs in that reason than in, for example, California, where renewable sources make up a much larger share of the grid mix.
And while driving an electric pickup may produce lower levels of emissions than a gasoline or diesel pickup, driving a more efficient EV is even better. The more efficient the vehicle, the greater the benefits of switching form internal-combustion to electric power, the UCS noted.
Current electric trucks rely on large battery packs to achieve a practical amount of range. Smaller battery packs in more-efficient vehicles would help lower emissions further, the UCS noted, adding that recycling of battery materials could further reduce EVs’ environmental impact.