A recent study from the National Bureau of Economic Research, "Environmental Benefits from Driving Electric Vehicles?" shows the moniker ‘zero emission vehicle,’ attached to electric cars is misplaced. In a finding that may surprise some, Stephen Holland, of the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, and his coauthors discovered, depending upon one’s location, purchasing a zero emission car can reduce pollution locally, but nationally it tends to increase pollution overall.
In response to concerns about air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, federal and state governments have pushed the development and deployment of zero emission vehicles through a combination of federal and state subsidies and mandates.
The Federal Government provides a $7,500 subsidy for the purchase of each electric vehicle. Some states add to the federal subsidy with their own financial inducements. California, for instance, provides rebates and tax credits to purchasers of zero emission cars, truck and agricultural utility vehicles. Each year the state also requires an increasing percentage of car and truck manufacturers vehicles sold in the state to be zero emission.