Electric cars sounds as if they might be the answer to big-city smog, air pollution, and the contribution to CO2 emissions and whatever those emissions might add to global warming. However electric cars are not now generating net social benefits, and won't be for many years to come. From the very sensible Bjørn Lomborg,
The electric car seems great. Except, it isn't yet.
The social costs of the electric car: $223 billion.
The social benefits: about $0.5 billion.
Not a good deal. [EE: the details are set out in the link above]
25 million electric cars would over their lifetimes cut CO₂ worth $0.5 billion. Great. But they would cost $188 billion in direct subsidies, and more air pollution from power plants would kill more than 700 people each year, costing society over their lifetimes about $35 billion in damages....
It is advertised as a zero-emissions car, but in reality it only shifts emissions to electricity production, with most coming from fossil fuels. As green venture capitalist Vinod Khosla likes to point out, "Electric cars are coal-powered cars."...
For now, focus on much cleaner hybrids, clean up coal fired power and then innovate green energy and batteries until the electric car is worthwhile in a couple of decades.