The Debate, Climate Change and the Shift Toward Electric Vehicles

This article was originally published by U.S. News & World Report on October 23, 2020

CLIMATE CHANGE MADE IT onto the agenda for Thursday night's debate, with the candidates sparring over the oil industry, fracking and the Green New Deal.

After calling global warming an "existential threat to humanity," Vice President Joe Biden reiterated, among other plans, his initiative to invest in electric-vehicle charging stations along U.S. highways.

"We're going to invest in 50,000 charging stations on our highways so that we can own the electric car market of the future," Biden said.

During September's debate, however, both candidates showed enthusiasm about the future of electric vehicles, with President Donald Trump mentioning being "all for electric cars with big incentives," while responding to criticism of his emissions regulation rollbacks.

But the gradual shift toward electric vehicles has facilitated an increase in the national average fuel efficiency, which, in 1984 was 20 miles per gallon on average, and in 2019 was 26 miles per gallon – seeing the greatest shift since electric vehicles became prevalent in the past decade.

In 2019, around 727,000 electric vehicles were purchased, of the 17 million total light-duty vehicles sold that year, according to Bureau of Transportation Statistics data compiled by USAFacts. Three categories make up electric-drive vehicles: hybrid electric, plug-in hybrid electric and all-electric.

California saw nearly half of all-electric vehicle registrations, vehicles which run solely on electricity, in 2018, with 256,800, or 47% of the national total. Hawaii, Washington and Oregon saw the next highest registrations of all-electric vehicles per 100,000 people.

, Contributor