Canadian study: Each EV brings better health, $7,500 in “social benefits”

Many studies have confirmed the health benefits of replacing internal-combustion vehicles with EVs, but a new Canadian study puts a dollar amount on those benefits.

A single electric car replacing a gasoline car brings approximately CD$10,000 (about $7,400 at current exchange rates) in “social benefits,” according to the study, which was drafted by advocacy groups Environmental Defence and the Ontario Public Health Association.

In the Greater Toronto Hamilton Area (GTHA), switching to 100% electric cars and SUVs would bring up to CD$2.4 billion ($1.7 billion) a year in social benefits, electrifying all public transit buses would provide CD$1.1 billion ($810 million) per year in social benefits, and switching to “more efficient” trucks would add CD$2.1 billion ($1.5 billion), according to the study.

Social benefits were calculated based on the Value of Statistical Life (VSL), a measure of how much people are willing to pay to reduce their risk of death, according to the study’s authors. That could be expressed as wage premiums required to attract workers for risky jobs, or willingness to pay for improved vehicle safety features, but does not include health care costs.

The study also found that switching to electric cars and SUVs would mean 313 fewer premature deaths each year, while “cleaner” trucks would mean 275 fewer premature deaths each year. Electrifying transit buses would mean 143 fewer premature deaths annually, according to the study.

2020 Nissan Leaf

2020 Nissan Leaf

Previous studies have found that electric cars’ effect on air quality could lead to lower health care costs, with one 2016 study indicating that EVs could save $13 billion by 2030 in the states that had adopted California’s stricter emissions standards at that time.

Those results were largely based on anticipated reductions in air pollution, something witnessed over the past few months as countries shut down in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Pollution levels already appear to be rising in countries that have started reopening, such as China, however.

There is even anecdotal evidence that electric cars can help drivers quit smoking. Many people buy cigarettes at gas stations, so driving an electric car can remove the temptation to purchase a pack.

However, the Canadian study looks beyond the direct health effects caused by the emissions of internal-combustion vehicles, providing yet more evidence of the potential positive impact of electric cars.

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