A study from the University of Southern California, released last week, showed a reduction in local air pollution levels and asthma-related emergency room visits in areas with higher concentrations of electric vehicles. The ZIP code-level study by researchers at the Keck School of Medicine of USC was one of the first “to quantify the real-world environmental and health benefits of zero-emission vehicles,” the university stated.
Zero-emission vehicles accounted for nearly one in five light-duty vehicle sales in California in 2022, according to data from the California Energy Commission. But, of the 345,000 ZEVs sold in California last year, more than 200,000 were Tesla vehicles, categorized as luxury or near-luxury vehicles.
The USC researchers found that lower-income areas, with fewer EVs than affluent areas, aren’t benefiting equally from California’s transition to zero-emission vehicles.
“Should continuing research support our findings, we want to make sure that those communities that are overburdened with the traffic-related air pollution are truly benefiting from this climate mitigation effort,” said Erika Garcia, an assistant professor of population and public health sciences at the Keck School of Medicine and the study’s lead author, quoted in Keck School News.
The California Air Resources Board’s clean mobility plan, announced last year, would provide $2.6 billion toward lower-income and environmental justice communities, including incentives up to $19,500 for low-income EV buyers.