Want to save the environment by purchasing an electric car? Drive it in Norway.
The environmental benefits of riding around town in an electric car over a conventional gasoline-fueled version can vary greatly depending on where it was charged. While electric cars on a whole have been shown to be greener than the fossil-fuel-burning masses, the power source that generates the electricity to charge their batteries makes a big difference.
Countries that use cleaner sources of energy can help maximize the benefits of an electrically charged car. Norway, for example, is an almost completely hydro-powered nation while France relies heavily on nuclear and renewable energy.
China on the other hand is still mostly coal-powered. That means an electric car in China is only 15% cleaner than a fossil fuel car, compared to a worldwide average of 40%, according to a Bloomberg News analysis.
Several major car companies have electric cars to sell—and those that don’t will soon. All of those companies are going to be looking to China, since the country is already the world’s largest auto market with 23.6 million vehicles sold last year, according to Euromonitor International. It is also one of the fastest growing. Last year, vehicle sales rose more than 5%, more than three times faster than the global rate, according to the market research firm.
The good news is that China is shifting to cleaner fuels, which would make all those future Chinese electric cars that much better for the environment.