Per British thermal unit (BTU), in the United States, gasoline currently costs about 7.6 times as much as coal. Due to the prevalence of coal fired electricity generating stations in the country, electrically powered vehicles may provide a fuel cost savings over similar gasoline powered vehicles. Fuel costs for electric vehicles have been reported to cost about $0.045 per mile to operate. Higher efficiency, gasoline operated automobiles such as the Toyota Corolla have reported fuel costs of about $0.093 per mile. This paper provides a first glance examination of electrically powered and gasoline powered vehicles in the United States. While gasoline costs continue to rise, a cheap, environmentally safe transportation alternative is needed to maintain the flexible lifestyle currently enjoyed by Americans. The cycle energy efficiency of coal produced electricity for personal transportation is much lower than the energy efficiency of gasoline, but the large cost differences between these two forms of fossil fuels may provide a temporary fix to a looming transportation crisis in the United States. The long-term environmental effects of an electrically powered, private transportation fleet could prove catastrophic due to increased use of coal and accompanying combustion product air pollution, but clean, renewable, electricity producing technologies may support more prolific long-term use of electrically powered transportation modes.

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