Electric vehicles (EVs) provide the United States with the opportunity to bolster our energy security by transitioning our transportation system away from direct reliance on fossil fuels. As the United States moves swiftly to decarbonize our sources of electricity generation and produce more renewable electricity right here at home, this shift will also reduce EVs’ environmental impact. American clean energy powering American EVs is a win-win.
The most significant change EVs will bring is the localization of transportation economies. Paying an electricity bill delivers money directly to your electricity provider, where it is tracked and regulated by your local, state and federal government. The money a family spends to charge their EV is not being wired halfway around the world to fund an oil patch on another continent, but stays in their local community and gradually circulates into the broader American economy through domestic commerce.
EV ownership also puts money back in the consumer’s pocket. Overall, the per-gallon equivalent of the cost of electricity is not only markedly cheaper than gasoline, it’s also protected from price volatility inherent in the global fuel market. Amid the recent rise in the price of gasoline, ZETA began doing monthly analyses which compare the cost of fueling gas-powered vehicles versus their closest electric counterparts. As American drivers faced sky-high gas prices, our analyses consistently found that EV drivers experienced substantially lower, stable, and predictable costs of charging their vehicles. For example: in June 2022, gasoline averaged $4.761 per gallon, while the per kilowatt-hour price of electricity was only $0.154. Depending on the state, EVs were 3 to 5 times cheaper to fuel than gas cars.
Beyond the grid, the EV transition presents an important opportunity for the United States to tighten its grasp on its position as a leader in energy innovation and production. The enactment of the Inflation Reduction Act and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act were major steps in that direction, but more work is required for important segments of the EV supply chain—namely, domestic mineral procurement.
With the proper federal action, the United States could be a global leader in critical mineral production and processing. For example, the invocation of the Defense Production Act has us on the right path by enabling critical mineral developers to conduct feasibility studies, make productivity and safety improvements, and boost production capacity. Our country already holds nearly 10% of the world’s total lithium resources—granting us the world’s fourth-largest identified lithium supply.
But more action is needed in scaling up domestic EV, battery, and microchip manufacturing, which will support the billions of dollars of private EV-sector investment throughout the country—and help reinforce our national security architecture, which is similarly reliant on critical minerals.
Decarbonizing our transportation sector can reinforce our grid, bolster our energy industry, and eliminate the inherent insecurity of relying on the global oil market. Electricity is cheaper, safer, and domestically controlled. Transitioning to EVs is the right choice for America’s national energy security.