SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- New research from an environmental group finds that even when gasoline prices are as low as they are now in California, choosing an electric vehicle is less expensive than a gas-powered car over its lifetime.
The report by Environment California Research & Policy Center finds electric vehicles are $3,500 cheaper over the lifetime than their gas counterparts when state and federal incentives for buying them are taken into account.
Environment California also says when gas prices rise to a more typical price, electric car owners could save nearly $9,000 over the vehicle's lifetime.
The group chose a press conference in San Francisco to release its findings in part because the city has the most electric vehicles per capita in California, according to the Deborah Raphael, Director of San Francisco's Department of the Environment.
Raphael said the reason for that is many of the vehicles in the city's own fleet are electric.
"What's really important right now is for those fleets like UPS, like the school district, like PG&E, to make the switch," said Raphael. "Because the impact is huge and quick."
For San Francisco, the impact has been economic as well as environmental.
"What we found was very similar to Environment California, that these vehicles are actually cheaper to operate. And that's not just the fuel that's cheaper," said Raphael. "The actual mechanism of the car is cheaper over time. It doesn't have as many moving parts. It doesn't need to go to the shop as frequently. So they make economic sense.
Environment California said the average electric vehicle in the study emits 31 fewer metric tons of greenhouse gases over the vehicle's lifetime than the gas-powered counterpart.
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