It also fills a gap: many of the existing studies on electric-car efficiency were completed before models like the Leaf came to market; others have expressed their results in science-lab terms like pounds of carbon dioxide emissions per year, not especially useful to consumers. Automakers have not always helped their customers understand the issues, either, typically painting electrics and hybrids with a green brush and an idealistic setting.

The context about environmental vehicles’ almost overwhelming superiority when it comes to climate impact and cost of fueling is important, however. Thankfully, outlets like the San Francisco Chronicle made sure to include that context. Reuters and The Christian Science Monitor even put in their ledes. Here’s the pithy first paragraph from the latter piece:

Compared with most cars, electric-drive vehicles are a plus for the environment - no matter where in the US they charge up. Their lower fuel costs, moreover, make them increasingly competitive with many conventional high-mileage vehicles and hybrids, a new study finds.

There’s a reason the Union of Concerned Scientists described electric vehicles’ performance as either “good,” “better,” or “best” in the 26 regions it surveyed. Where climate change and fueling costs are concerned, it seems they’re never bad.


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Curtis Brainard is the editor of The Observatory, CJR's online critique of science and environment reporting. Follow him on Twitter @cbrainard.